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The American climber rode into the winning breakaway, and unleashed a string of searing attacks on the upper reaches of the towering climb, but ran into longtime nemesis Rein Taaramäe.
The Estonian won the stage and claimed the leader’s jersey, and Dombrowski had to settle for second in what was a great chance to score another stage win.
“Honestly, I am little bit disappointed to be second,” Dombrowski said. “You always want to win. Maybe I was too aggressive on the climb and I wanted to use the steep sections to try to make a difference, but Taaramäe was super-strong and I did my best.”
Dombrowski, 30, lit up the Giro d’Italia this spring with a dramatic stage victory when he also went up against Taaramäe, who was also in the winning break that day behind Dombrowski.
Taaramäe turned the tables Monday, and played off Dombrowski’s stinging attacks with about 5 kilometers to go.
Taaramäe turned on the after-burners and soloed home for the win and also claimed the leader’s jersey. Dombrowski came through second at 21 seconds back.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for a breakaway, and it was similar to how I won in the Giro,” Dombrowski said. “I didn’t see the GC teams would pull, and I took my chance.”
The strong showing comes as Dombrowski is on the job market this year. His two-year deal with UAE-Team Emirates is up, and he told the Cycling Podcast at the start of the Vuelta that he is still considering his options.
As a late call-up to the Vuelta, Dombrowski hopes to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming weeks of the Spanish grand tour.
“I will keep looking for more opportunities, and I am sure there will be more chances,” he said. “If I can win another stage in this Vuelta, it would be super.”