Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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Joe Dombrowski – Proving to be Well Rounded

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‘Stars of the future?’ Here’s one – please just remember where you read it first. After the toughest stage of the Tour of California – traversing brutal Mount Baldy, many were asking ‘who’s Joe Dombrowski?’

But to those who study the U23 results, Dombrowski’s ride was a logical progression. Last year in the Valle d’Aosta stage race in Italy, the 21 year-old took a stage win and was second on GC. Next to the Tour de l’Avenir and Baby Giro, Aosta is the main hunting ground for Pro Tour talent scouts.

Joe Dombrowski
And on the subject of the Baby Giro, Dombrowski this week won a stage in this year’s race, assuming race leadership but losing it next day on the Strade Bianche.

Dombrowski had offers after his Aosta performance but chose to stay with Livestrong for 2012.

His US season kicked off in style, with a podium place in the high altitude New Mexican, Tour of the Gila.

VeloVeritas spoke to Dombrowski after that performance, in advance of his stand out ride over Mount Baldy.

Joe Dombrowski
Joe looking relaxed at the Tour of GIla.

Gila – your ‘break through race?’

“In some sense, yes, Gila was a break through race for me.

“Last year at Gila I proved that I could do well in the mountains by taking a podium spot on the first and last stage.

“Last season I also finished third on GC, and took the KOM jersey at Ronde de L’Isard, and won a stage and was second overall at Giro della Valle d’Aosta.

“While I did finish well in the GC those stage races last year, I knew that to be a true GC contender I would have to improve my time trialling.

“I’ve never ridden a great time trial, and to defend my position, and then even finish on the podium in a field of strong time triallists was definitely a breakthrough performance for me.”

Did you surprise yourself in the Gila TT – is that something you’ve been working on?

“It was a big surprise!

“I told Axel [Merckx, Bontrage-Livestrong DS] that I wanted to finish top 15, and I think he was a little dismissive of the prospect.

“Even I didn’t think I would be able to finish third! Going into the Gila time trial last year, I had ridden a TT bike only a handful of times.

“This winter, I made a really concerted effort to spend a lot of time on it.

“It seems to be paying off!”

How did your winter training go ? do you consciously ‘hold back’ because of your age and build?

“The winter went really well for me.

“I didn’t have any injuries or sickness, and the weather was unseasonably warm.

“I’m only 21 years old, and really only have a few years of racing under my belt.

“I think it’s important to go for steady trajectory, and shoot for consistency, rather than go off the deep end in search of marginal gains.”

Joe Dombrowski
Safe in the bunch at the World U23 RR Championships.

Is Jeremiah Bishop still your coach ? – how has your training changed over the years?

“I still work with Jeremiah, and it’s a great relationship, as he is both a coach and a training partner.

“It makes for a really hands-on approach.

“As I’ve progressed, my training has become more specific and regimented, but still with a focus on having fun.

“I didn’t have any races on my programme in April, so to fill the void, I motor paced some of the stages from the Tour of Virginia and Tour DuPont. The caveat?

“I followed the course exactly with a GPS unit, and “raced” the peloton of the past over the same course using time splits from those stages.

“It made for a really fun “virtual stage race” at home that was as close to a race simulation workout as you could get without being in the peloton.”

Your rides in Aosta – did the US cycling media make a fuss?

“It was actually relatively quiet.

“The Europeans, and the Italians especially, hold the race in high regard, but it seems that most of the American fans know little of the event.”

Joe Dombrowski
Joe is targeting the Baldy stage at the TOC.

What are your goals for California?

“California will be my first time racing World Tour riders, so it’s hard for me to say where I will stack up.

“I’d like to go for the best young rider jersey, and target the stage to Mt. Baldy.”

Have you done Ca. stage recons?

“I just got back from riding stage one with some of my teammates.

“It was really valuable as the roads are narrow, and have poor surfaces.

“I think it could be especially chaotic since no team will have control.”

Gila must have allayed your fears about Bontrager being taken seriously in California?

“I think we earned a lot of respect at Gila this year.

“I held the best young rider jersey everyday, and ended up third overall on GC.

“In addition, my team mates Ian Boswell and Lawson Craddock went one/two on the queen stage.

“The field at Gila was deeper than before, and I think our results proved that we deserved our invite to Tour of California, and have the potential to make a mark on the race next week.”

Are Utah and Colorado on the agenda?

“We haven’t received an invite to either yet, but the team is hoping to get in.”

Will you be in Europe much, this season?

“I only have my programme set through the end of June so far, but I will be going over to Italy after California to do the Baby Giro with the US National Team.

“Aosta has moved to July this year, and I’m thinking about trying to do that as well after a mid-season break.”

How do your trade team and US Cycling sort out your programme on the international front?

“My trade team director, Axel Merckx, and the National Team director, Marcello Albasini, work together to make a programme for me.

“It’s a balance of doing races which suit me, and going for results, but also doing races that aren’t necessarily suited to me with the goal of getting experience and becoming a well rounded rider.”