|Joe Dombrowski is a 21 year old professional cyclist from the United States. He currently rides for Bontrager-Livestrong cycling team and currently resides in Marshall, Virginia. He has been a professional cyclist since 2010 when Bontrager-Livestrong director, Axel Merckx brought him onto the team as a stagiaire at the 2010 Tour of Utah. At the beginning of the 2011 racing season he was offered a spot on Bontrager-Livestrong and has remained at the team since.
In 2012, he has not only done well at one of United States' biggest bicycle races, the Amgen Tour of California, placing within the top 15 riders overall, but has also recently claimed overall victory at the Girobio, also know as the Baby Giro, while racing with the U.S National Team. He is the first American to ever win the Girobio and has done it all at the age of 21.
Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong). Photo © Bontrager-Livestrong
Luke Allingham- Hi Joe, can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm Joe Dombrowski, I'm 21 years old, and I am from Marshall, Virginia. I race for Bontrager-Livestrong.
Luke Allingham- How are you feeling after your recent win at Girobio (Baby Giro) with the U.S National Team?
Great! I've enjoyed a week off the bike, and some nice down time at home. My friends at home threw a party for me a couple days after I got back, which was a nice way to celebrate and soak it in a bit.
Luke Allingham- You're the first American to ever win the Girobio, what were your immediate reactions when you won?
Amidst the flurry of activities right after the race it took a while to sink in. What I most looked forward to right after the race was going back to our base in Lucca, and celebrating over a nice dinner with the boys, and then heading back home and enjoying some downtime and a week off the bike. That's when it was really satisfying.
Luke Allingham- Looking back on the race, what was the most challenging part for you during the race? Were there any parts of the race that you found easy?
I can think of two distinct points of the race that to me, were tough. The first was losing the jersey on stage 5. I punctured on the Strada Bianchi inside of 10k to go and was never able to make it back to the group. The second point, though it was more nervous than challenging, was defending the jersey on the final stage. I had three teammates left at that point, and it was a shorter 120 kilometer day of circuits. I had heard it was a tough course, and while I didn't expect anything from the top few riders on the GC, I wanted to be ready for anything. It took quite a while for a good breakaway to form, so our team spent the first half of the day on high alert making sure we didn't let anyone important get up the road.
While there were times when the race wasn't so physically demanding, I wouldn't ever say the race was "easy." When you ride for the GC you have to be ready for anything at any time. This is especially true at that level of racing where the teams are smaller and less organized making it more difficult for them to control.
Luke Allingham- What was it like for you to win the Girobio while racing in U.S National Team colors?
Many people noted that I was the first American to win the race. Historically, the GiroBio has been dominated by Italians, so to win in National Team jersey was pretty cool.
Luke Allingham- On stage 8 of the Girobio you won on the Passo Gavia climb and retook the overall lead with only 1 stage remaining; what did it mean for you to claim victory and retake the overall lead?
It felt really good to deliver. My teammates and director put a lot of faith in me, and it was gratifying to repay them with a win. It was a race of ups and downs for us. We lost two teammates early on, took the jersey and a stage win on the fourth day, and lost it the next day with an untimely puncture on the Strada Bianchi. From then on, we put all our resources into staying safe until the Gavia, and then launching an attack.
Dombrowski attacks the group. Photo © Glenn Kasin
Luke Allingham- What was the team strategy heading into stage 8?
At that point, it was all or nothing. We had already gotten a stage win, and the real goal was to get back the jersey. The plan was to keep the guys with me as long as possible. Unfortunately we lost Josh Berry to a crash, and Ian Boswell to a stomach bug early on. That left me just three teammates going into the final day. All the guys were really helpful. Larry Warbasse was still in the group at the base of the Gavia, and rode a hard tempo early on that set up my race-winning attack. I knew I had to go early as the pink jersey had three minutes on me coming into that stage.
Luke Allingham- How do you feel about all the attention that you have gotten since winning the Girobio; do you find it stressful, unnerving, flattering, etc.?
The attention has been flattering, really. The whole thing seemed to really catch fire when I first took the jersey on stage 4. Throughout the race, and especially after, the messages of support and encouragement were overwhelming. The media has really taken hold of the story as well, which is nice to see because people usually don't hear too much about racing at this level.
Luke Allingham- Has winning the race changed anything in your life?
It has certainly opened up opportunities for me. That being said, it hasn't changed me. I still race because it's what I love to do, and I'm motivated towards other goals in the second half of my season.
Luke Allingham- What are your plans for the 2013 season? Will you remain with Bontrager-Livestrong or perhaps move into the Professional Continental or Pro Tour ranks? Have you had any offers or contact from any other teams?
I've had contact from a number of teams, but at this point am still deciding what I want to do. I really value development, and recognize it is a big step up to the pro ranks. Luckily, I have a lot of good people to use as sounding boards regardless of the decision I make.
Luke Allingham- When did you start racing? While growing up did you ever think that you would become a professional cyclist?
I started racing when I was 17. I started off with mountain biking, and eventually also did cyclocross. I started racing on the road in 2010. I love racing, and it's something I dreamed of turning into a career since I started. It wasn't until more recently that I realized that was really possible.
Joe gets out of the saddle. Photo © Glenn Kasin
Luke Allingham- Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while off the bike?
I've always loved to ski, and this past winter I picked up telemarking. I play the violin, and while I'm not currently enrolled, I've finished half of my schooling as an Economics major.
I also love to cook... and eat!
Luke Allingham- You currently race with Bontrager-Livestrong on the road, tell us about that team from your perspective as a rider. What do you like about racing with the team?
Our team is so closely knit. We're like a family. The camaraderie is unlike any other group I've been a part of. I think sometimes other teams don't take us very seriously because off the bike, well, we aren't very serious. When it gets down to the racing though, everyone is super motivated and hard working. We are all still young, so no one has become jaded with the cycling scene, and it's just a generally positive and supportive environment.
Luke Allingham- Final Question: Is there anyone that you would like to thank that helped you get to the point in your professional career that you are at today?
First and foremost I would like to thank my parents for all the support they showed when I was just getting started, and the support they continue to provide. I also owe a lot of my success to my friend, training partner, and coach, Jeremiah Bishop. Lastly, I'd like to thank my team, Bontrager-Livestrong, and my director Axel Merckx. I was a long shot when I first started talking with Axel in 2010. I was freshly upgraded to the Category 3's, and didn't have any real results to my name. Axel took a chance, and brought me into the program as a stagiaire at the Tour of Utah that year. He offered me a spot for 2011, and I have been with the team since. I am really grateful for the opportunity he gave me, especially given the circumstances, and appreciate all the support this team has given me since.
You can follow Joe on his Twitter account or follow Bontrager-Livestrong on their Facebook,, Twitter or website
About the Author: Luke Allingham is an amateur bicycle athlete residing in Chicago, Illinois who continues to hone his skills despite entering his first year of high school in the coming year. He is a contributor to The Daily Peloton Cycling News covering men's professional cycling and interviewing bicycle racers from around the world.
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