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American cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski was killed Thursday when she was hit by a truck in training, her Telenet-Fidea team confirmed to VeloNews.
“It is terrible, terrible news,” Corné Lepoeter, president of Telenet’s development team, told VeloNews. “We are all so sad. … We don’t know anything more. We just get the news.”
The Telenet team later confirmed that Dombroski had been involved in a collision at 4 p.m. local time while motorpacing in Sainte-Catherine-Waver, Belgium. The driver of the scooter survived the crash. Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the 52-year-old driver of the truck was not under the influence of alcohol when the collision occurred.
“Amy was a very likeable young woman with lots of ambition,” the team said in a statement. “Manager Hans van Kasteren, YTFCT chairman Corne Lepoeter, team leader Kris Wouters, all riders, and staff … offer the family of Amy their sincere feelings of compassion.”
Dombroski recently returned to Europe for the Telenet-Fidea launch following the Gran Prix of Gloucester in Massachusetts, where she finished eighth and 11th.
Telenet manager Hans van Kasteren told Belgian website cyclingsite.be that the team was making arrangements for Dombroski’s return to the United States.
“This is the second time something like that happens to us. When Tim Pauwels, brother of Kevin, died, he died in my arms. And now this. Amy was a wonderful girl, a good rider,” he said. “Tuesday at the team presentation I noticed her optimism for the coming winter. We had a lot of confidence in her.”
Originally from Jericho, Vermont, Dombroski, 26, was a rising star for the U.S., joining the top Belgian ’cross squad in 2012. She was a three-time under-23 national champion in cyclocross, and also won titles on the road and the mountain bike. Dombroski was a multiple-time member of the U.S. cyclocross world championships team.
Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh-Clement) grew up with Dombroski in Jericho and shared his thoughts with VeloNews on Thursday.
“She was an awesome person to have in the sport,” Driscoll said, noting Dombroski was outgoing, active on social media, always promoting the sport, and racing internationally.
“She was always charismatic, but she was much more outgoing when she was cycling,” he said. “She was personable and talkative. It didn’t really matter who you were, or whatever. She was just as happy to see me, who she’s known for a very long time, as someone she’d just met and was into cycling at a bike race. And that’s really cool.”
Known as much for her outgoing personality off the bike as her racing exploits, Dombroski was a popular fixture in the elite ranks of U.S. cyclocross.
In an e-mail to VeloNews, U.S. national champion Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) said she would miss Dombroski’s enthusiasm on the European circuit.
“She will be greatly missed; it saddens me that we lost one of our own so young and tragically,” Compton wrote. “She was full of life and loved racing her bike and was living the dream in Belgium. I’m going to miss seeing her on the start line and feeling her enthusiasm for everything cross. My thoughts go out to her family and close friends, I can’t imagine how brutal this is for them.”
Chris Smith, who handles public relations for Lazer Sport, was a longtime sponsor and friend of Dombroski. He was about to climb onto his trainer to do a workout on Thursday morning, but checked Twitter first.
“That’s when I saw it,” he told VeloNews. “I just can’t believe it.”
Over the years, Smith and Dombroski became friends. “All my dealings with her were just so great. She was just such an upbeat, positive person about everything. She was just such a pleasure to work with,” he said. “She was the epitome of an athlete I wanted to support and work with … she was just so much fun to work with. I just looked forward to every opportunity I had to see her … she was such a great person.”
Dombroski and Smith had talked about putting on a cyclocross camp, or a women’s cycling camp. He had communicated with her Thursday morning, about helmet pads of all things.
“I was talking to her about helmet issues … one of the first things I thought of, was, ‘Jesus Christ. This is the last conversation I had with Amy. About helmet pads. I can’t believe that this is the last thing I got to talk to her about.’ Of course you can’t live your life thinking, ‘Ok, this is the last conversation that I’m going to have with this person, so I need to make sure that they know that I really like them as a friend, that I really appreciate knowing them,’ … but that’s not realistic.”
“I wanted to share her with the cycling community and people I knew as much as possible. She’s a treat to know. The more people that I could expose her to, the better it would be for everybody. It’s hard to fathom for me right now that that’s gone. I can’t believe it.”
“I’m going to miss her tremendously.”
“Like a lot of people at Gloucester, I talked with and rode around with Amy. And I can’t — I just — it just feels so wrong that she’s not here anymore,” said former U.S. cyclocross champion Tim Johnson. He compared the loss of Dombroski to that of another young professional, Nicole Reinhart, who died in 2000 after crashing in the BMC Software Tour of Arlington. That race was Johnson’s first as a professional.
“I went down to the hotel the morning of the race, and I’d known Nicole. She gave me a big hug, and told me congratulations on getting my contract … I go to the race, we’re warming up, she’s going to be winning her big money [$250,000 for sweeping the four-race Grand Prix], she comes through with one to go … and then the last lap she doesn’t come around again. And that was it. They finally said they were going to cancel the race, because of the passing of Nicole Reinhart. It was the most shocking fucking thing ever. It’s such a sick feeling.
“You don’t have to be best friends with someone in ‘cross to know a lot about them and to know who they are. And Amy is one of those people. She’s a part of ‘cross. To understand that she’s not here anymore is just a sickening feeling.”
Kevin Batchelor works at Boulder, Colorado’s, Mosaic Cycles as part of a two-man team. He and owner Aaron Barcheck built Dombroski two bikes, a mountain bike and cyclocross bike.
“A lot of people act like they appreciate what you do for them. She meant it and tried to tell us thank you in every way possible,” Batchelor told VeloNews. “I don’t really know what to say. I am in shock. … People die every day, and life goes on without skipping a beat. But losing Amy is affecting the entirety of a global [cycling] community and for good reason. She was truly special. … Her smile was 1,000 times her physical stature and she wore it nearly always. It’s a dark day for those of us who want to see the brighter side of life. Right now, it’s hard to see anything through this blurry mess.”
Mosaic Cycles later announced that a memorial fund in Dombroski’s name had been established:
The friends of Amy have set up a memorial fund in Amy’s name to help her family and to be used in her memory. Donations can be dropped off at Pro Peloton in Boulder or mailed to:
Memorial of Amy Dombroski
c\o Wells Fargo Deposits
1242 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302
Reaction to the news quickly poured in via social media, with friends and contemporaries of the American reflecting on her quick sense of humor and easy smile.
There has never been an athlete who I wished to emulate more in her day to day existence and attitude than Amy Dombroski. I love you, Amy.
— Mara Abbott (@cosunshinemka) October 3, 2013
Always with a smile on her face. Such a tragedy, we will miss you! @AmyDombroski
— Renaat Schotte (@wielerman) October 3, 2013
Absolutely crushed to hear about @AmyDombroski. Life just isn't fair.
— alex howes (@alex_howes) October 3, 2013
The world does not make sense. Rest in peace Amy. You were one of good ones.
— joan hanscom (@joanhan) October 3, 2013
This video of Amy Dombroski’s 2012 win at the Valmont Bike Park, site of the 2014 U.S. national championships, is courtesy of OnSight Media.
VeloNews reporter Matthew Beaudin contributed to this report.