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Joe Dombrowski will watch Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins try to win next month’s Giro d’Italia on TV. Even if he won the amateur version of the race, Dombrowski and the team decided that the grand tour would be too much, too soon.
Over the winter, Sky put the 21-year-old from Virginia on its tentative Giro roster. It was somewhat surprising since the longest race he completed before that was amateur Giro last year.
“Maybe it was a little too much, especially considering Bradley is going there trying to win. It’s a different dynamic,” Dombrowski told VeloNews from his European base in Nice, France.
“If my first year was last year, given the team Sky sent to the Giro, then maybe it would’ve been OK, but looking at it now … I told them that I’d be happy not to do it. I don’t want to go there as a young guy in a team [trying] to win the GC. I feel like I’d be capable of doing the job, but I just don’t want to go and screw up the team time trial, or whatever.”
Running in the pack
Dombrowski made his 2013 debut in February at the Tour of Oman, where along the way he helped Chris Froome win the overall classification. Back in a rather cold Europe, his job was the same: Tirreno-Adriatico (Froome second), Critérium International (Froome win, Richie Porte second), and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) (Porte second, Sergio Henao third).
He said that his European debut in Tirreno-Adriatico was more a pack struggle than a physical challenge.
“What was more of a struggle was the bike racing aspect, being where you need to be when you need to be,” Dombrowski said. “The position and the fighting. That was the eye-opening thing, not just the physical challenges of the race, but the other side of it.”
Sky Principal David Brailsford agreed. He complemented his natural talents, but said that “Neo-pro Joe” needs more time running with the pack.
“We knew [there would be a learning curve]. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him to perform,” Brailsford told VeloNews. “We don’t want to have him thinking, ‘Ah, I’m going to mess it up for Brad Wiggins, he’s not going to win the Giro.’ In his first year, he just needs time in the shoes basically, he just needs to be exposed.
“We don’t want to put him into a situation where … It’s like when we selected young riders for the worlds, Like Matt Keenan for the team sprint. He never really got on. You can do more damage than good. We thought we’d throw him in and he’d be all right, but you can actually scare him. You don’t want to do that.
“[Dombrowski would] be better off doing the Tour of Poland, the Tour of Austria, races like that. He’s used to that, he was the leader of the under-23 team. It’s quite a shock to the system going from team leader of a smaller team to [Sky].”
Like teammate Ian Boswell, Dombrowski’s knee has also been giving him some problems. Both riders say it’s due to getting their positions right after switching to a new team with different bikes, shoes, and cleats. The durability of Dombroski’s knee during a three-week race so early into his professional career was part of his and the team’s concern.
Trentino to Marshall
Dombrowski is training in Nice now to prepare for his next race, the Giro del Trentino. It starts Tuesday and is Wiggins’ final pre-Giro d’Italia test. Afterwards, Dombrowski will travel home to Marshall, Virginia and stay there for about a month.
“It worked out nicely because they added [the Tour of the Basque Country] to my racing calendar and I’ll still do Trentino,” Dombrowski said. “I’ll come back and race Bayern-Rundfahrt [May 22-26] and the Tour de Suisse [June 8-16].”