Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager Livestrong & USA) first came to our attention in 2011 when he won a stage and was second on GC in the Valle d’Aosta U23 stage race in Italy.

Aosta, along with the Tour de l’Avenir and Baby Giro are the equivalent of eBay for the professional talent scouts – where quality goods can be picked up at good prices.

Dombrowski’s excellent performances were no flash in the pan; this spring he took third in the tough, high altitude Tour of the Gila in New Mexico and was fourth on the ‘queen’ Mount Baldy stage of the Tour of California – fifth was Tom Danielson and sixth Chris Horner. We interviewed him recently about his ride on Mount Baldy.

But the ride which has really made the emails and phone calls from the big teams start to appear came last week when the 21 year-old from Marshall, Virginia won the GiroBio – or ‘Baby Giro.’

VeloVeritas was on the phone to the man who we think is headed for the very top, as soon as he’d had a good night’s sleep in his own bed.

Joe was looking relaxed at the Tour of GIla.

Great ride, Joe – did Mount Baldy give you confidence going in to Italy?

“Going in to the Tour of California the guys in the Bontrager Livestrong team saw it as a big opportunity.

“It was exciting but we didn’t really know what would happen – so we didn’t have big goals.

“But going in to the Baby Giro I’d set the goal that I wanted to win the GC.”

And is it true that there’s no such thing as a flat race in Italy?

“Pretty much – even on the sprinter’s stages there were hills.

“But what’s cool about the Baby Giro is that it is like the Giro – there’s a mountain top finish a stage where the finish comes off a big descent, a time trial, Strada Bianche and sprinter’s stages.

“To win the GC you have to be a complete rider.”

The race didn’t start well for USA; you lost Joshua Berry on stage one.

“It was like that, a race of ups and downs.

“I attacked on the final climb on stage four, took some more time on the descent, won the stage and took the jersey. But the next day I punctured with 10 K to go on the Strada Bianche and lost the jersey.

“Then the next two days the plan was just to stay out of trouble – I knew that the Gavia was such a hard climb that there would be big gaps.”

Stage two was split, how did you find that?

“I’d never done one before – it was kinda fun!

“There was a short 70 K stage in the morning which finished right outside the hotel; we had lunch; took a nap and then there was a short time trial in the evening along the beach cycle path.

“It was a cool experience – I sometimes train in the morning and then again in the evening, but that was my first experience of it in competition.”

After your good TT in Gila, did you hope for better in the TT stage?

“I wasn’t that disappointed, whilst I lost 50 seconds to the winner, I only lost 15/20 seconds to the guys who were riding for the GC.

“It was short – about a 14 minute effort, but pretty technical because you had to alternate between the road and the cycle path.

“And I was held up – an old guy on an upright bike pedalled onto the percorso with three K to go and I had to stop to avoid a crash.”

Stage three was 193 K – 5:26 in the saddle.

“We had long days in California, but that was a tough day, very hot, very draining.”

Joe in the leader’s maglia at the GiroBio. Not the last time we’ll see this.

You won stage four with your escape but lost the jersey on the stage five Strada Bianche – do you think that type of course belongs in a U23 race?

“You know, I really, really enjoyed racing over those roads.

“I was going well and with 15 K to go there was a split which caught out some of the Italian GC guys.

“But in races which involve cobbles or dirt roads, a lot of it is down to luck – my team car was way behind and I lost time with the flat tyre at 10 K to go.

“But the stage added fun and an interesting dynamic to the race – as well as time trial and mountain days you had another type of decisive day which meant you had to prove that you were a real all-rounder.”

On stages six and seven were you plotting your Gavia move?

“There was a rest day after stage five and on stages six and seven I felt pretty good.

“The plan was to stay near the front, avoid the crashes and generally keep out of trouble.”

The Gavia?

“We did five climbs that day, we totalled 5,000 metres of climbing – it’s one of the biggest days I’ve ever done on the bike.

“The first couple of climbs weren’t too bad but on the second last climb the Russians were riding tempo for their race leader, Zakarin – to try and keep the attacks under control. By the time we got to the bottom of the Gavia there were only 25/30 riders left in the front group.

“I already had a stage win, so winning on the day didn’t really concern me – I was after the overall, but had three minutes to make up. My team mate Larry Warbasse took it up from the bottom until about 12 or 13 K to go – then comes that moment where you think; ‘well, I guess I have to go now!’

“I attacked and right away got a gap on Fabio Aru who was my main rival for the GC – I rode the last 11 K on my own. But it was a tough day, I gained 40 seconds pretty quickly but the gap stayed at that until the last K.

“I could look down and see Aru two switchbacks below me – it was mano-a-mano stuff.

“It was a long climb of suffering – I could hear the race radio on the motor bikes behind me and knew that the gap was around 30/40 seconds but Aru had 25 seconds on me on GC; so it was close.

“Our team car punctured, so my team manager Marcello Albasini got a ride in the Dutch team car – I’d look round and see him in the back seat, going nuts!”

Joe barely has the strength to raise an arm after an astounding victory on the Gavia. Image©GiroBio.

That final stage, nine must have been nervous?

“After the Gavia stage the Italian reporters were asking me how it felt to have won the Baby Giro.

“I said that there was a 120 K stage on a hilly circuit still to ride and I’d prefer to wait until that was over before I talked about how it felt to win.

“I’d lost two team mates early in the race, so I only had three left – and they were pretty tired, they’d been doing a lot of work for me.

“I had to be really attentive, there were splits which I had to react to and it was a really nervous stage until the break went.

“It was definitely not a ‘parade’ stage!”

It must have been nice to beat Aru – he was the man who beat you to win Aosta in 2011?

“Yeah, we spoke most days in the peloton and at dinner in the hotel.

“We had a good battle in Aosta, and another one last week, it was fun.

“He turns pro for Astana and will be riding the Vuelta – so I wished him luck with that.”

Will you be going to Aosta, this year?

“I just got home on Tuesday and I’m going to have a few days off the bike, then I’ll talk to my DS Axel Merckx about the programme.

“The Tour de l’Avenir is a race which suits me, so I may skip Aosta; but ride the Tour of Utah and the Cascades stage race here in the US before going to the l’Avenir.”

I believe that the Baby Giro was catching a lot of media attention in Italy, this year?

“The Italian TV channel RAI was showing the race every night.

“It was kinda cool to ride the stage and then to be able to see yourself on TV, that night!

“The race is a big deal in Italy; what made it so special for me was that I’m the first US winner in a race which is traditionally dominated by Italians – and I’m adding my name to a list that includes the likes of Francesco Moser and Giovanni Battaglin.”

And have the offers started?

“For sure!

“After California I had a lot of folk showing interest – but it’s really taken off after Italy.

“I’ve had all kinds of emails and phone calls – it’s quite stressful, actually.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people and what they say is that it’s not just about chasing the money.

“You have to find a team that will allow you to develop properly.

“There are a lot of riders who were good U23 riders with bright futures but who were put into races which didn’t suit them and after their two year neo-pro contract was up, found it tough to get placed.

“I’ll be taking my time with any decisions.”

Result - GiroBio 2012

Final General Classification

1 27 USA19910512 DOMBROWSKI JOSEPH (USA) GS USA NAZIONALE USA 34:41’11
2 24 ITA19900703 ARU FABIO (ITA) G PAL TEAM PALAZZAGO 34:41’36 25
3 88 ITA19910622 PENASA PIERRE PAOLO (ITA) G ZAL ZALF EUROMOBIL DESIREE FIOR 34:42’21 1’10
4 158 ITA19860827 DI SERAFINO MATTEO (ITA) MON VEGA PREF. MONTAPPONE 34:43’21 2’10
5 134 ITA19880129 CIAVATTA MATTEO (ITA) MON MONTURANO-CIVITANOVA-CASCINARE 34:45’00 3’49
6 36 ITA19891102 ZARDINI EDOARDO (ITA) COL TEAM COLPACK 34:46’23 5’12
7 168 ITA19890227 DE IESO DONATO (ITA) VEJ VEJUS-TMF-IDNAMIC-BH BIKES 34:46’47 5’36
8 15 ITA19921025 FORMOLO DAVIDE (ITA) G PET PETROLI FIRENZE-CYCLINGTEAM 34:48’14 7’03
9 P 67 RUS19890915 ZAKARIN ILNUR (RUS) S RUS NAZIONALE RUSSIA 34:48’18 7’07
10 83 ITA19920212 DI REMIGIO LORENZO (ITA) G ARA ARAN – D’ANGELO & ANTENUCCI – BLS 34:50’05 8’54
11 119 ITA19910313 GIACOBAZZI ROBERTO (ITA) G FON GENERAL STORE MEDLAGO FONTANA 34:50’50 9’39
12 P 152 ITA19880128 FACCHINI PATRICK (ITA) CAS TEAM M.I. IMPIANTI CASATI ASD 34:51’10 9’59
13 38 KAZ19870226 SHUSHEMOIN ALEXANDR (KAZ) S KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 34:51’25 10’14
14 40 KAZ19870301 JUMABEKOV NAZAR (KAZ) S KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 34:51’31 10’20
15 12 NED19901103 KOUWENHOVEN SJOERD (NED) GS NED NAZIONALE NETHERLANDS 34:51’47 10’36
16 106 ITA19891215 GAFFURINI NICOLA (ITA) GAL DELIO GALLINA COLOSIO S.INOX 34:51’59 10’48
17 P 33 ITA19910627 VILLELLA DAVIDE (ITA) G COL TEAM COLPACK 34:52’00 10’49
18 52 VEN19900316 ABREU SOLER (VEN) GS MGK MGKVIS NORDA PACIFIC 34:53’51 12’40
19 72 RUS19910420 TATARINOV GENNADY (RUS) GS RUS NAZIONALE RUSSIA 34:54’27 13’16
20 64 ITA19900901 BONGIORNO FRANCESCO MAN G VAL HOPPLA’-VEGA-TRUCK ITALIA-VALDARNO 34:55’01 13’50
21 141 ITA19870421 PICHETTA RICARDO (ITA) VEN MONVISO – VENEZIA 34:55’51 14’40
22 23 ITA19890327 ROSA DIEGO (ITA) PAL TEAM PALAZZAGO 34:56’57 15’46
23 124 LTU19891017 BLIAKEVICIUS MANTAS (LTU) S GRA GRAGNANO SPORTING CLUB 34:58’06 16’55
24 68 RUS19900409 CHERNETCKII SERGEI (RUS) GS RUS NAZIONALE RUSSIA 35:02’18 21’07
25 41 KAZ19890915 BEDERBEKOV MIRAS (KAZ) S KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 35:04’50 23’39
26 161 ITA19890501 CAMILLI ALESSIO (ITA) MON VEGA PREF. MONTAPPONE 35:06’12 25’01
27 30 USA19900628 WARABASSE LAWRENCE (USA) GS USA NAZIONALE USA 35:06’41 25’30
28 47 AUT19880929 KRIZEK MATTHIAS (AUT) S MAR MARCHIOL EMISFERO SITE 35:11’09 29’58
29 98 ITA19920828 POLITANO FEDERICO (ITA) G CAP CAPARRINI LE VILLAGE-VIBERT ITALIA35:12’43 31’32
30 62 ITA19920707 MEROLESE ANTONIO (ITA) G VAL HOPPLA’-VEGA-TRUCK ITALIA-VALDARNO 35:16’30 35’19
31 146 ITA19871220 BUSATO MATTEO (ITA) IDE TEAM IDEA 2010 ASD 35:17’13 36’02
32 127 ITA19910212 ANTONINI SIMONE (ITA) G SHO IDEA SHOES-MADRAS-SUOL. FRANCESCA 35:17’26 36’15
33 14 ITA19891011 SGRINZATO MARIO (ITA) PET PETROLI FIRENZE-CYCLINGTEAM 35:18’39 37’28
34 118 ITA19871222 TEDESCO PIETRO (ITA) FON GENERAL STORE MEDLAGO FONTANA 35:20’00 38’49
35 37 KAZ19870307 TLEUBAYEV RUSLAN (KAZ) S KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 35:21’27 40’16
36 128 ITA19910720 BROVELLI GIUSEPPE (ITA) G SHO IDEA SHOES-MADRAS-SUOL. FRANCESCA 35:22’18 41’07
37 130 ITA19910703 ULIVIERI MIRKO (ITA) G SHO IDEA SHOES-MADRAS-SUOL. FRANCESCA 35:25’48 44’37
38 29 USA19900401 SQUIRE ROBERT (USA) GS USA NAZIONALE USA 35:28’30 47’19
39 P 61 ITA19870413 PUCCIO ANTONINO (ITA) VAL HOPPLA’-VEGA-TRUCK ITALIA-VALDARNO 35:28’45 47’34
40 137 ITA19921209 DI LUCA GRAZIANO (ITA) G MON MONTURANO-CIVITANOVA-CASCINARE 35:32’50 51’39
41 P 97 ITA19891104 PUCCIONI MIRKO (ITA) CAP CAPARRINI LE VILLAGE-VIBERT ITALIA35:33’55 52’44
42 34 ITA19891008 MAMMINI MATTEO (ITA) COL TEAM COLPACK 35:36’29 55’18
43 89 ITA19881005 ZANCO DIEGO (ITA) ZAL ZALF EUROMOBIL DESIREE FIOR 35:36’37 55’26
44 45 ITA19881221 VACCHER ANDREA (ITA) MAR MARCHIOL EMISFERO SITE 35:37’13 56’02
45 103 ITA19890406 FOPPOLI MICHELE (ITA) GAL DELIO GALLINA COLOSIO S.INOX 35:40’54 59’43
46 133 ITA19890802 CENSORI DAVIDE (ITA) MON MONTURANO-CIVITANOVA-CASCINARE 35:40’55 59’44
47 5 CZE19901230 NOVAK JAKUB (CZE) GS TRE U.C. TREVIGIANI DYNAMON BOTTOLI 35:41’57 1:00’46
48 49 VEN19900531 SALINAS JHONATHAN (VEN) GS MGK MGKVIS NORDA PACIFIC 35:43’25 1:02’14
49 17 ITA19890105 TEDESCHI MIRKO (ITA) PET PETROLI FIRENZE-CYCLINGTEAM 35:44’55 1:03’44
50 86 ITA19900927 GAZZARA MICHELE (ITA) G ZAL ZALF EUROMOBIL DESIREE FIOR 35:45’13 1:04’02
51 122 ITA19920515 CARDINALI MARCO (ITA) G GRA GRAGNANO SPORTING CLUB 35:46’00 1:04’49
52 42 KAZ19910314 KAMYSHEV ARMAN (KAZ) GS KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 35:47’00 1:05’49
53 132 ITA19890925 PINAGLIA THOMAS (ITA) SHO IDEA SHOES-MADRAS-SUOL. FRANCESCA 35:47’25 1:06’14
54 145 ITA19871217 TEDESCHI MIRKO (ITA) IDE TEAM IDEA 2010 ASD 35:51’35 1:10’24
55 139 ITA19870911 PRODIGIOSO MARCO (ITA) VEN MONVISO – VENEZIA 35:51’42 1:10’31
56 44 ITA19890808 CECCHIN ALBERTO (ITA) MAR MARCHIOL EMISFERO SITE 35:52’27 1:11’16
57 48 ITA19880827 COLLODEL MATTEO (ITA) MAR MARCHIOL EMISFERO SITE 35:54’13 1:13’02
58 43 ITA19891211 NICHELE ATTILIO (ITA) MAR MARCHIOL EMISFERO SITE 35:56’25 1:15’14
59 11 NED19900312 ASSELMAN JESPER (NED) GS NED NAZIONALE NETHERLANDS 35:57’04 1:15’53
60 39 KAZ19910914 UMERBEKOV NIKITA (KAZ) GS KAZ NAZIONALE KAZAKHSTAN 36:00’57 1:19’46
61 142 ITA19901208 CORINO STEFANO (ITA) G VEN MONVISO – VENEZIA 36:01’44 1:20’33
62 84 UKR19871218 BRYCHAK VITALII (UKR) S ARA ARAN – D’ANGELO & ANTENUCCI – BLS 36:02’36 1:21’25
63 153 ITA19920206 TIZZA MARCO (ITA) G CAS TEAM M.I. IMPIANTI CASATI ASD 36:03’02 1:21’51
64 P 1 ITA19900115 LOCATELLI ALFIO (ITA) G TRE U.C. TREVIGIANI DYNAMON BOTTOLI 36:04’20 1:23’09
65 P 50 POL19910302 PIASKOWY EMANUEL (POL) GS MGK MGKVIS NORDA PACIFIC 36:05’54 1:24’43
66 65 BLR19880106 PAPOK SIARHEI (BLR) S VAL HOPPLA’-VEGA-TRUCK ITALIA-VALDARNO 36:06’12 1:25’01
67 57 ITA19900805 MORESCO MATTIA (ITA) G GAZ GENERALI VIDEA BALLAN COPPI GAZZERA 36:10’05 1:28’54
68 32 ITA19900305 ZILIOLI GIANFRANCO (ITA) G COL TEAM COLPACK 36:10’09 1:28’58
69 19 ITA19871024 DUGANI FLUMIAN LUCA (ITA) PAL TEAM PALAZZAGO 36:12’51 1:31’40
70 70 RUS19900123 FROLOV IGOR (RUS) GS RUS NAZIONALE RUSSIA 36:16’32 1:35’21
71 7 NED19920825 TEUNISSEN MIKE (NED) GS NED NAZIONALE NETHERLANDS 36:17’05 1:35’54
72 148 ITA19900408 FALCO NORMAN PATRICK (ITA) G IDE TEAM IDEA 2010 ASD 36:18’09 1:36’58
73 101 ITA19910113 BANI EUGENIO (ITA) G CAP CAPARRINI LE VILLAGE-VIBERT ITALIA36:19’39 1:38’28
74 160 POL19920417 OBORSKY DOMINIK PATRYK (POL G MON VEGA PREF. MONTAPPONE 36:20’05 1:38’54
75 85 ITA19891114 LEONARDI GIANLUCA (ITA) ZAL ZALF EUROMOBIL DESIREE FIOR 36:22’15 1:41’04
76 P 95 ITA19890126 POZZO MATTIA (ITA) VIR VIRIS MASERATI 36:24’31 1:43’20
77 108 COL19900823 QUINTERO ARTUNDUAGA DUBE GS GAL DELIO GALLINA COLOSIO S.INOX 36:25’04 1:43’53
78 123 ITA19910227 FIORENZA ALFONSO (ITA) G GRA GRAGNANO SPORTING CLUB 36:26’02 1:44’51
79 16 ITA19881130 GOMIRATO DAVIDE (ITA) PET PETROLI FIRENZE-CYCLINGTEAM 36:28’52 1:47’41
80 58 ITA19911028 FLORA FRANCESCO (ITA) G GAZ GENERALI VIDEA BALLAN COPPI GAZZERA 36:29’07 1:47’56
81 77 ITA19860822 FRUZZETTI MICHEL (ITA) MAL GS MALTINTI LAMP. BANCA DI CAMBIANO 36:29’11 1:48’00
82 90 ITA19921010 SIMION PAOLO (ITA) G ZAL ZALF EUROMOBIL DESIREE FIOR 36:31’49 1:50’38
83 109 ITA19920324 VIOLA MICHELE (ITA) G FAR FARNESE VINI-DANGELO&ANTENUCCI-MCIP 36:32’22 1:51’11
84 147 ITA19880106 BENFATTO MARCO (ITA) IDE TEAM IDEA 2010 ASD 36:32’35 1:51’24
85 56 ITA19881117 CAVASIN DANIELE (ITA) GAZ GENERALI VIDEA BALLAN COPPI GAZZERA 36:33’00 1:51’49
86 8 NED19900814 WIPPERT WOUTER (NED) GS NED NAZIONALE NETHERLANDS 36:35’30 1:54’19
87 P 28 USA19890213 SUMMERHILL DANIEL (USA) S USA NAZIONALE USA 36:36’51 1:55’40
88 151 ITA19900226 VESCOVO ALESSIO (ITA) G CAS TEAM M.I. IMPIANTI CASATI ASD 36:37’54 1:56’43
89 P 111 ITA19920103 GUASTINI MICHAEL (ITA) G FAR FARNESE VINI-DANGELO&ANTENUCCI-MCIP 36:38’10 1:56’59
90 59 ITA19910115 ROCCHI NICOLO’ (ITA) G GAZ GENERALI VIDEA BALLAN COPPI GAZZERA 36:41’40 2:00’29
91 P 74 ITA19880505 ANICHINI SAMUELE (ITA) MAL GS MALTINTI LAMP. BANCA DI CAMBIANO 36:45’51 2:04’40
92 9 NED19901203 KONING PETER (NED) GS NED NAZIONALE NETHERLANDS 36:52’53 2:11’42
93 P 71 RUS19901012 VOROBYEV ANTON (RUS) GS RUS NAZIONALE RUSSIA 36:53’15 2:12’04
94 76 ITA19871001 ZAMPARELLA MARCO (ITA) MAL GS MALTINTI LAMP. BANCA DI CAMBIANO 37:03’18 2:22’07
95 162 ITA19920824 RICCARDI ALESSANDRO (ITA) G MON VEGA PREF. MONTAPPONE 37:15’12 2:34’01
96 P 167 UKR19900625 ZHUKOVSKYI ROSTYSLAV (UKR) GS VEJ VEJUS-TMF-IDNAMIC-BH BIKES 37:19’57 2:38’46