Rider of the week
In 2012, after taking the overall classification in the Girobio ahead of Fabio Aru, Davide Formolo and Ilnur Zakarin, Joe Dombrowski was widely regarded as the next big thing of US cycling, many tipping him for a Grand Tour victory in the years to come. After that season – in which he got other impressive results in the Tour of California and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, racing agains the pros – the 21-year-old was signed by Sky, but the move didn’t turn out to be a match made in heaven, the main reason being a medical problem (iliac artery endofibrosis) that hampered his two-year spell with the British outfit.
With Sky not extending his contract beyond 2014, Dombrowski had to search for a new team, and it didn’t took him too much to find it, as Cannondale-Garmin was eager to take him aboard and came with an offer. The young climbing ace didn’t weigh too much on this, as he saw the transfer to the US-based squad as an excellent opportunity to relaunch his career and find the form that has helped him shine in the seasons spent as an U23 cyclist with Bontrager-Livestrong.
The signs that Joe Dombrowski started to regain his legs were there early in the year, at the Tour de San Luis, where he finished 7th. Then, the beginning of the Spring wasn’t very satisfactory, but the tables eventually turned around in the Tour of California, where the former Girobio winner came home 4th, a result reminiscent of his 2012 season. Finishing just outside the podium left Dombrowski very confident ahead of his next appointments and hungry for more, a big result looking to be just around the corner.
Cannondale-Garmin’s leader at the start of the Tour of Utah, the rider from Virginia stayed safe during the first stages of the week-long event and made sure of not losing any time to his rivals, before storming away on Snowbird (10,8 kilometers, 7,5% average gradient), in the penultimate stage, putting on a fantastice surge with more than six kilometers to go, that let all the other GC contenders in the dust.
Thanks to an impressive cadence (which didn’t overshadow his elegant style), Dombrowski claimed his maiden pro victory, which confimed the huge potential that heralded him when he turned pro, in 2013. Getting also the yellow jersey on his shoulders, the 24-year-old put on another dominant display one day later, on Empire Pass – one of the toughest climbs in the US (12,7 kilometers, 7,7% average gradient) – marking all his opponents and sealing the overall classification win in Park City, where he became the 7th US cyclist to triumph in the Tour of Utah.
With the Vuelta a España ready to hit it off in less than two weeks – a race that will provide opportunities galore to the climbers – and taking into account his superb form, Joe Dombrowski can be one of the revelations there, despite making his debut in a Grand Tour. After all, he’s not the future of US cycling anymore; he’s the present of it.