Dombrowski on Giro d’Italia path with Wiggins

American neo-pro is surprised, excited to be aiming at the Tour of Italy in his rookie season

MILAN (VN) — Less than a year after Joe Dombrowski won the amateur version, the neo-pro is on a path to race the Giro d’Italia in his professional debut next year. Sky has named him in its long list for the Giro team to support Bradley Wiggins and gain experience.

Dombrowski, who is briefly Stateside for Christmas after his first Sky training camp in Spain, explained that his racing schedule surprised him.

“I wasn’t even really expecting to do a grand tour. I thought if I do any of them, it’d be the Vuelta a España. I thought that the Giro was too early and the Tour’s the Tour, and that maybe they’d see how the first half-year goes, and I’d do the Vuelta,” the 21-year-old told VeloNews on Sunday.

Sky’s decision means that he could potentially be helping reigning Tour de France champ Wiggins in Italy. The Giro starts in Naples on May 4, includes a 55.5-kilometer time trial and the usual high-mountain romp in the final week before finishing in Brescia on May 26.

“Some aspects are daunting, riding the Giro but also riding it for… You know, it sounds like Wiggins is going there to win,” said Dombrowski. “There’s a bit more pressure, and as a neo-pro it’s quite a bit, but at the same time, if they see I’m not ready after the first few races then they’ll probably have me sit it out.”

Dombrowski proved ready for the pro ranks this season. Riding for team Bontrager-Livestrong, he finished just seconds behind established pro Robert Gesink in the Tour of California’s queen mountain stage. A month later, he became the first American to win the amateur Giro, or the GiroBio.

He rode clear on the Monte Terminillo climb in the south and, after losing the lead on Siena’s gravel roads, he regained the pink jersey up Passo di Gavia. He rode 43 seconds into his nearest rival and almost three minutes into the others.

Those rides caught the attention of Sky’s top brass. He signed with the British team with Bontrager teammate Ian Boswell and began training with the British ProTeam this month in Mallorca, Spain.

“Talking to the older GC guys that are new to the team, like Dario Cataldo [from Omega Pharma-Quick Step] and David López [Movistar], they seemed really surprised about the training load in volume and structure at this point in the year,” Dombrowski said. “They said almost all the other teams are not working this hard this early. There’s such a focus on details in training, which is perhaps different because the coaches and training plans come from within the team.”

At camp, Sky performance trainer Tim Kerrison went over the next month’s training and directors planned Dombrowski’s race schedule through June. He trains at home for the holidays and joins Boswell at their European base in Nice, France, after celebrating the New Year. He will spend January and part of February back and forth between Nice and Mallorca before his race debut in the Tour of Oman.

“Basically all the races I do up to the Giro – Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, Critérium International, Giro del Trentino – those are all with the team doing the Giro,” said Dombrowski. “Kind of a core group of guys that they’ll keep together … It’s an ambitious calendar, and it’s going to be pretty challenging.”

Editor’s note: This story initially referred to Dombrowski as having finished second behind Robert Gesink at Mount Baldy in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. Dombrowski finished fourth, “just seconds behind” Gesink.