American Joe Dombrowski will soon end his time with Team Sky and make the switch next season to what is currently the Garmin-Sharp team, but will become Cannondale next season. It has been a bit tougher going than anticipated for the young climber from Virginia. After a solid 2012 with Bontrager-Livestrong that saw him climb into public view at the Amgen Tour of California and win the Girobio, he’s battled injury for two years on Sky, and recently had surgery on his left leg to fix an arterial issue. He’s back to training again, and talked with VeloNews recently.
VeloNews: How did you come to terms with going to the new Cannondale team run by Slipstream Sports?
Joe Dombrowski: I had a number of different options. It was a bit of difficult timing, in terms of doing my contract this time around. I had planned in advance, early in the year, to get everything sorted out in regards to what I’d being doing next year.
It was right after the Tour de Suisse when I flew to London to see what was going on with my leg, and that’s when I found out I had the problem, and it was like, “Well I know I have this problem, and now I’m trying to talk to these teams …” Of course, I had to tell people about the surgery and my injury, but teams were still interested. I guess my injury was a much more common issue in the professional peloton than I had initially realized, so maybe some teams saw me as a risky move, but I still had a bunch of options, like Garmin. I had spoken with [Jonathan] Vaughters before I went to Sky actually, but at the time I went with my gut, which was Sky. But I already had a relationship with Vaughters and we’ve loosely kept in contact and he was happy to take me on, even with my health issues. I think it’s a good fit for me. It will be nice to be a part of an American team, with American riders. I met some great people at Sky, but it is definitely a team full of great GC riders, which is fine, I don’t mind being part of the team role, but the attractive thing about Garmin is that it seems that they might have some opportunities for me and it will be a comfortable and fun environment where I think I can really thrive.
VN: Looking ahead to next season, what would you see as a success? Obviously this year took a backseat because you had to spend so much time getting healthy.
JD: First and foremost, getting back to good health and having a good consistent season. When I look at this year, I didn’t really race until California and did that and Suisse, and that was pretty much it. I think the most important thing is that I come back from this injury in a slow and progressive way. I want to be able to have a healthy recovery so I can have a good season next year. With that being the big thing in mind, I don’t have any big goals in mind. I guess I’d like to do a grand tour, so I think that would be really valuable, but in terms of targeting specific races, nothing come to mind and I’ve learned over the past few years that you have to be really flexible and you just have to take opportunities as they come and make the best of them.
VN: What’s something you’ve taken away from your time with Sky?
JD: There are a lot of things actually. For one, being an American and moving to France was kinda big. I’d say this season, I became a lot more comfortable living over there and actually enjoying it. Also, as I was saying before, there are a lot of great riders on Sky, so being able to work with these guys and learning different roles within the team has been great. Another thing, Sky has a pretty extensive support network in terms of training and things like that. So there are a lot of takeaways there for me, in terms of what works and what doesn’t work.
VN: Will you keep your European base in Nice or will you change now?
JD: I talked to Vaughters about that actually because they have their base in Girona. … I was in Girona for about three weeks when I was with Livestrong and truthfully, I didn’t think the riding was that great, compared to Nice. Maybe it was because I didn’t get shown around, but I’m not sure. I’d really like to stay in Nice. The training there is awesome; I have an apartment that’s all set up; I have a car with insurance. I have a visa — so I’m good to live there legitimately. It took almost two years to get all of that going and it will be a change going to a new team, so I feel that it would be best to minimize changes outside of that. So yeah, I think Nice for next year and then maybe go somewhere else down the road if that seems better.