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Giro d'Italia

Dombrowski: ‘To win a stage would be huge’

Joe Dombrowski is back in good form and hopes to fulfill a dream of winning a stage at the Giro d'Italia

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CUNEO, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia dream continues for Joe Dombrowski.

The EF Education First climber has patiently been waiting for the mountains to arrive in this Giro. And they’re finally here.

“Personally it would be great to win a stage,” Dombrowski said. “It’s a pretty back-loaded race as far as the hard stages are. There will be some opportunities.”

Dombrowski is midway though his fourth Giro. Teammate Hugh Carthy is still well-positioned on GC — and leading the best young rider — but even if he’s called in to help pace his British teammate, there should be a moment when Dombrowski will have the green light to attack.

The 28-year-old and Italy have a close relationship. It was back in 2012 when Dombrowski, then a spindly 21 year old, beat Fabio Aru to win two stages and the overall at the “Baby Giro.”

That victory opened the door to the WorldTour with a high-profile deal with Team Sky for 2013-2014. After two years with the British super-team, Dombrowski has settled into being one of the stalwarts at EF Education First.

He’s raced races all over the world, but it’s the Giro that remains close to his heart.

“It’s a beautiful race, you never know what’s going to happen in the Giro,” he said. “Maybe it’s the last part in cycling where there are still surprises.”

Now he’s back at the Giro, with an eye on breakaways and the hunt for a stage victory that would, in many ways, complete the circle that began in Italy nearly a decade ago.

“From stage 13 on, we get into some pretty heavy stages, I’ll be looking forward to that,” he said. “When I first did the Giro in 2016, it was more like this. It’s hard in the last week.”

Dombrowski’s been in breakaway attempts and come close. He rode into a winning break to Andalo in 2016, but lost contact to miss out on a chance for the win. A week later, he was third in stage 20 over the Alps, his best career individual grand tour result to date.

Like just about everyone else in this Giro who isn’t a sprinter, Dombrowski has been patiently waiting for the final act of this Giro.

“I like the third week, I usually go well, and I am looking forward to it,” he said. “It would be huge to win a stage. That would be the biggest thing of my career so far.”

He said the first half of the Giro, with long stages, foul weather and tension, has been more difficult than fans assume watching on TV.

“There is a fatiguing element to it, mentally you have to be more switched on in the rain, more crashes, more splits, you need to be in the front in more key moments,” he said. “If you race in the cold and rain every day, the fatigue starts to add up.”

Dombrowski — whose best Giro result came in 2016 with 34th overall — said he hopes to have a few shots at breakaways.

“I don’t see myself riding away from Nibali,” he said with a laugh. “Probably in a breakaway is your best bet to win a stage. To win from the GC group is not simple.”

The right move, on the right day, with good legs and it could happen. Dombrowski is hoping so.