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"The team was perfect. They did a great job riding on the front and controlling the race. They put me in the perfect position going into the final climb. I was never under any pressure.”

Photo: Cannondale-Garming Pro Cycling




10.08.2015 @ 14:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cannondale-Garmin’s Joe Dombrowski won the Tour of Utah in Park City on Sunday. The 24-year-old moved into the race lead when he took his first professional victory on Saturday’s queen stage and confirmed the overall title on the final stage.


“Yesterday I went out to be aggressive and win the stage and take the yellow jersey,” said Dombrowski. “Today it was all about protecting my lead. The team was perfect. They did a great job riding on the front and controlling the race. They put me in the perfect position going into the final climb. I was never under any pressure.”


The 122.5 kilometer stage seven started and finished in Park City with a category two climb at Wolf Creek Ranch before the hors categorie climb up Empire Pass. The 10-kilometer final climb boasts an average grave of 10 percent with several pitches that exceed 20 percent. Over the top of Empire Pass, it was a roaring downhill drop back to Park City.


“The only point during the race where I thought I could get into trouble was up Empire Pass,” said Dombrowksi. “But even there, I felt comfortable. I followed all the moves, and in the end, it was a relatively stress-free day thanks to the team.”


It was the usual fast and frenzied start to the day with several break attempts failing before the early breakaway would eventually take shape. Forty kilometers into the stage a 12-man move had three minutes over the bunch.


“The team made sure that the break wasn’t a dangerous one,” Dombrowski noted. “The closest guy on the general classification was nearly 10 minutes down. In that regard, it was perfect. There was no stress for us. We were totally fine with letting that breakaway go. Other teams obviously had other objectives, and that was fine, too. They could jump in, which allowed us to save energy for later in the race.”


The peloton kept the break between two and three minutes up Wolf Creek Ranch and down the twisting descent. The breakaway had splintered on the first of the two categorized climbs, and, in the run-in towards Empire Pass, the peloton began to reabsorb some of the former front-runners.


Twenty kilometres from the finish, on the lower slopes of Empire Pass, Michael Woods (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), who started the day in second overall, jumped. Dombrowski followed, and the peloton split. It didn’t take long for an elite selection to be made. Ahead Britton remained the lone hold-out from the early breakaway.


“I felt really good on the climb,” noted Dombrowski. “I thought it was best to play it conservative, protect my spot and not take any risks.”

Dombrowski and company caught Britton before the KOM. The group would remain intact until the road plunged down when two riders attacked on the descent.


“I know the descent because I had ridden it in training,” Dombrowski explained. “I felt confident that the guys that had attacked were not going to get more than 15-20 seconds on this particular descent, so I opted to take it easy rather than risk a crash. Coming into the finish, I knew everything was all good. It was a great feeling. We worked so hard all week and its really special to be able to pay the team back with a win."


“It was a great week for us as a team. I'll definitely remember yesterday's stage, winning the stage and taking yellow. It was really a great team effort today. They did a super job controlling the race going into the final climb, and then put me in the right spot, and from there, it was just follow everybody,” said the 24-year-old Dombrowski, riding his first year with Team Cannondale-Garmin. He finished fourth overall at the 2012 Tour of Utah while riding for the Trek-Livestrong team.


“I think it's a pretty difficult race,” added Dombrowski. “It's kind of the perfect storm of things that makes it a pretty tough race. But I think that's what is great about it. Maybe some of the other American races are lacking a little bit in that regard, in terms of really defining stages. Colorado is interesting because it's a bit more tactical, but they don't have really hard climbs like this.”


"So far it's been a really good year for me and I've sort of made steady progress. I think anytime you have a long hiatus like that, you fix something and you think you're going to go straight back to the top. But it doesn't always work that way," he said regarding the iliac artery surgery he underwent last year.


"It's not a linear progression. But, yeah, I think this is the best yet since then, so I'm happy to be back and racing healthy again."


The win was especially good for Cannondale-Garmin since two-time Utah champion Tom Danielson had tested positive for synthetic testosterone.


"I said to the guys on the team bus the first day, 'I think we can still win this race. And I think with you guys individually we can win stages as well, so let's not focus on that and let's just focus on the race and see what we make of it and be as positive about this as we can,'" Dombrowski said. "I think it was a good week for us."


Dombrowski crossed the line in ninth place to takes his first professional general classification title.


“The team was very motivated all week,” said sport director Bingen Fernandez. “They were motivated, and they were 100 percent committed to Joe.”


“This is something Joe will remember for the rest of his life,” Fernandez added. “I’m really grateful to be a part of it. Every win is special, but when you win with a young kid, there’s something extra to be proud of.”


“I think this is going to be a changing point for Joe,” noted Fernandez. “He’s had some difficulties the last two years, but now he has confirmation that he is a great rider with a great future. This is a new start for him.”


Dombrowski flies home to Nice tomorrow before his Grand Tour debut. He’s slated to start the Vuelta a España at the end of the month.



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