It was way back in September 2011 on the eve of the Copenhagen World Championships when we first interviewed Joe Dombrowski, no one seemed to have noticed that he’d won a stage and finished second overall to a certain Fabio Aru in the Giro della Valle d’Aosta – one of the biggest u23 races in the world.
At the end of 2012 young American Joe Dombrowski had the world at his feet; he’d won the Baby Giro - ahead of a certain Fabio Aru - and placed fourth and tenth respectively in the Tours of Utah and Colorado – and there was a nice crisp Sky contract to be signed. But his two seasons with Sky didn’t pan out as most had expected – with the reason finally tracked down to an iliac artery problem which he’s now had surgery on.
It was 2011 when we first spoke to American Joe Dombrowski; we interviewed him at his Copenhagen hotel in the run up to the U23 Worlds. That year he’d finished second in the Baby Giro, an excellent performance, but he came back in 2012 and went one better, beating Fabio Aru – now one of Vincenzo Nibali’s lieutenants – to take victory. Sky know a good thing when they see one and snapped the skinny man from Virginia up – here’s what Joe had to say to VeloVeritas about his first season in the World Tour.
Sometimes a ride comes along and right away you can just tell he has what it takes. We first caught sight of Joe Dombrowski at the Italian Valle d’Aosta stage race, last year. Aosta, l’Avenir, the Baby Giro and the U23 Worlds are where the pro talent scouts do their window shopping.
The ride which has really made the emails and phone calls from the big teams start to appear came last week when Joe won the GiroBio – or ‘Baby Giro.’ VeloVeritas was on the phone to the Joe Dombrowski who we think is headed for the very top - as soon as he’d had a good night’s sleep in his own bed.
'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 ?'
Given events in Milano today we thought you might like to see what the man in the final Giro d'Italia pink jersey, Tao Geoghegan Hart had to say to VeloVeritas some seven years ago... For 2014 the 18 year-old from London was off to follow the path trodden by his mentor, Movistar’s Essex chronoman, Alex Dowsett; heading for the USA under the tutelage of Axel Merckx at Bissell – formerly Trek/Bontrager.
It’s not just any youngster who gets a ride with the Dutch SEG Racing Academy but ‘Brit’ Harrison Wood, who recently finished a solid top 10 in the Chrono des Nations, will be riding in SEG colours for 2020.
If you were around the Scottish race scene a few years back then you’ll remember Rob Palmer, he was at university up here in Bonnie Scotland – VeloVeritas mentor and Cycling Sage, Vik always reckoned that the man bore a striking to another Robbie – Mr. Williams. But our man isn’t into communicating with Aliens – unlike the ex-Take That man – not that we know of, anyway.
Racing with Axeon for 2015 is Kiwi, James Oram who we first spotted when he won the 2011 Tour de l’Abitibi in Canada – the ‘Junior Tour de France’ with Bobby Julich, Tyler Farrar and Taylor Phinney all on the roll of honour. Later that year Oram took silver in the Junior Worlds TT and for the last three seasons has been with Merckx. Last season he cracked the top ten in the Tour of Alberta and World U23 TT Championships and he’s kicked off 2015 in fine style with a win in the New Zealand U23 TT Championship – we had a word soon after his Kiwi win.
We had a feeling that Quintana would find it very hard to continue in this Vuelta – whilst the man is hugely talented he’s not at the level he was in the Giro and to make up three minutes on Messrs. Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde was never going to be easy. His morale was in his boots anyway but then fate intervened, down he went on the stage from Pamplona and the Media can stop asking daft questions about imaginary feuds in the Movistar camp.
I first heard of Fabio Aru (Astana & Italy) when he won the 2011 Giro della Val d’Aosta U23 stage race in Italy from US rider Joe Dombrowski – who’s now professional with Sky. Aosta along with the Tour de l’Avenir and the U23 Worlds are the big shop windows for the professional talent scouts. Aru had been fourth in Aosta the year previous and would win it again in 2012.
Kristoff was no surprise to us – especially with Paolini as his wingman; Cancellara – enough said. But the man on the third step of the podium was a big – and it must be said, pleasant – surprise, Sky’s Ben Swift, back from the wilderness. Last season was compromised by injury picked up in 2012 and subsequent surgery but there were green shoots of recovery to be seen at the start of this season – two podiums and a top ten in Nokere.
He has a name that's hard to miss, Tao Geoghegan Hart; with 2013 results to match - two of Europe's premier junior stage races and a podium in the junior Paris-Roubaix. And for 2014 the 18 year-old from London is off to follow the path trodden by his mentor, Movistar's Essex chronoman, Alex Dowsett; heading for the USA under the tutelage of Axel Merckx at Bissell - formerly Trek/Bontrager.
Here at VeloVeritas we try to keep our eye out for young men who are ‘doing it’ – getting themselves over to Europe and trying to make the grade. Take 22 year-old American Joshua Berry, it’s a long way from his home town of Ketchum, Idaho to the French Mediterranean coast – but that’s where he’s riding, for La Pomme Marseille.
There's a 'new wave' of US riders on the way up, we've already spoken to Messrs. Dombrowski and Boswell, who'll bolster Team Sky for 2013. But BMC too are taking advantage of the new talent from the New World: 22 year-old Larry Warbasse from Dearborn, Michigan has just stepped up from the Swiss team's US development team to the World Tour squad.
Baby Giro winner, Joe Dombrowski is just half the story when it comes to rising US stars joining Team Sky for 2013. Dombrowski’s friend, countryman and Bontrager-Livestrong team mate, Ian Boswell is another young man who’s been busy this year, attracted a lot of attention and will be joining the Team Sky juggernaut.
LanceGate is divisive, no question. Our editor, Martin and I have similar views on many things in cycling – but not on this one. Martin thinks that the boil must be lanced; (pun intended) get the puss out before the healing can begin. My feeling is that what’s happening is the equivalent of dropping a nuclear depth charge into a huge cesspit – spectacular, very messy and with no real positive effect, unless you’re a tabloid editor or a ‘forum sitter.’
No races today, time to catch up with some old friends, the gossip and write up the Worlds Elite rr preview and fit in an interview - I have to justify my existence. We're about 20 K from the city of Copenhagen in Naerum, which is right on the course. It takes two trains to get to central Copenhagen, but they run frequently and bang on time. Our meeting this morning was with Dane, Jimmy Hansen.