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"My left leg feels just as strong as my right now and it gives me a lot of confidence heading into 2015."


Photo: Sirotti




10.12.2014 @ 09:00 Posted by Renaud Breban

Having ridden impressively in his first two years at the Continental level, Joe Dombrowski joined Team Sky. But health issues prevented him from performing in line with such expectations. Interviewed by CyclingQuotes, he said that his left leg feels just "as strong as the right now" and "it gives me a lot of confidence heading into 2015". For the next season, he will ride for Cannondale-Garmin Sharp after two seasons with Team Sky.


The American rider have just returned from a ten day team camp with his new team. "We spent the first three days at the Cannondale headquarters in Connecticut. Then we went sailing in the Carribean. While it was definitely a bit of a vacation, it was also a great exercise in team building. We were split up on ten boats. We had skippers who taught us how to trim the sails, man the helm, and read the wind. We had organized races. I loved the whole trip and I do think it was useful, especially in this case, where there are two teams merging", Dombrowski explained.


He finished his season in September, after the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. "I began training in September. Obviously that is significantly earlier than the rest of the peloton. Prior to that, I was off my bike for two months following my operation. The first few weeks after the operation I was basically confined to the house with little to no activity. After that, I was moving around and it was a nice break. I would rather have been racing, but I tried to look at it as a positive and catch up with my family and friends in the US."


"Aside from training, I enjoy being home with family and friends during the winter. It's one of the few times during the season that I am not in Europe. I tend to mix up my training a bit more during the winter. I love to get out on my mountain bike or skis and I focus on doing my gym work as well."


Joe Dombrowski told about his injury. He felt "a loss of power" in his left leg. "At the time, I did not know that the power loss was due to a damaged iliac artery. In retrospect, the knee pain may have been a product of compensating for the larger issue I had going on which was the problem with my artery. I didn't make any significant changes so I still am not sure what the cause of the knee pain was, but I think it's very possible that the knee issue stemmed from the iliac issue."


"I was symptomatic for about a year before I finally had a conclusive diagnosis. Iliac endofibrosis affects a very small population and the risk factors are certainly not what they would be for a typical vascular surgery candidate. The damage is due to repetitive hip flexion and primarily affects cyclists, rowers, triathletes, and runners. The initial portion of the diagnostic process is very simple; an ankle brachial index or ABI. The ABI is a measure of blood pressure at the arm and both ankles. You get values at rest, and then after riding the bike. If you have a drop in the symptomatic limb after exercise, then you can bet there's a good chance you have a vascular problem. I was seeing about a 40% drop in blood pressure in my left ankle during cycling."


"I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I was actually relieved when I was told that I had a damaged iliac artery and I would need it to be surgically repaired. I had dealt with these vague, but debilitating symptoms for a whole year. I saw many different specialists in various areas and the problem was pinned down as being any variety of musculoskeletal or neural issues. To finally get conclusive data and be offered a solution was really encouraging for me."


"It was really frustrating. I knew that I had a real problem, but we didn't know what it was. It was definitely detracting from my performance, but it was a bit of a vicious cycle because it also detracted from my confidence."


But now he can say: I'm finished with it: "I've had a few months back on the bike now. I am happy to report that so far, everything has gone really well. My left leg feels just as strong as my right now and it gives me a lot of confidence heading into 2015."


Despite his injury, he received many offers. He chose the Garmin-Cannondale for two main reasons. "I had a number of other offers but I chose Cannondale-Garmin because I saw it as the best option in terms of opportunities and environment. Those two factors were the most important in making my decision. Historically, Garmin has been a team that has provided good opportunities and a nurturing environment for their young riders. Combined with the fact that they are an American team, when I put all my thoughts down on paper and weighed the options the decision seemed easy."


"Being an American team, I already knew some of the staff and riders. In that regard, it seemed that they would be the team where I would feel the most at home, which was important to me. I already knew Ben King, Alex Howes,  and Andrew Talansky, among others, and I had talked with Jonathan Vaughters on a number of occasions. Having friends at a new team definitely makes the transition easier."


After his first training camp, he has an idea of his race program, at least for the early season. "I received a tentative race programme at our camp last week. I will start in San Luis. From there I will return to my European base in Nice and then do Volta Catalunya, Giro del Trentino, Tour of California, US Nationals, and Tour de Suisse. My programme is not heavy on race days in the beginning. The team wanted to give me time to get my feet back underneath me. I only raced in California and Suisse this year, and I have essentially missed an entire season in my development."


Like all riders, Joe Dombrowski dreams of winning the biggest races of the calendar. He explained that he has a preference for the Giro. Just one American won this race, it was Andrew Hampsten in 1988. "I know most would say they dream of winning the Tour de France, but for whatever reason, I would say that I dream of winning the Giro. I think it's a beautiful race, and Italy is a beautiful country. Additionally, while I don't know that they would ever really suit me, the Worlds are a special race. The winner wears the rainbow stripes all season and you race the Worlds for your country rather than your trade team."





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