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“I’ve had to take my time to build-up and hopefully deliver the results I feel like I’m capable of achieving. This is the best thing I’ve done yet in this comeback year, if you will. I’m really happy about it.&...

Photo: Cannondale-Garming Pro Cycling

JOE DOMBROWSKI

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOUR OF UTAH

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
09.08.2015 @ 05:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cannondale-Garmin’s Joe Dombrowski stormed to his first professional victory in Snowbird, Utah on Saturday to win the queen stage of the Tour of Utah. Fist pumped in the air as he soloed across the line more than a minute ahead of overnight race leader Michael Woods (Optum – Kelly Benefit Strategies), Dombrowski pulled on the yellow jersey of Tour of Utah race leader. The American closes out stage six sitting pretty atop the general classification with a 50-second advantage over Woods and 1:07 over Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), who sits in third overall.

 

 

“This win means a lot to me,” said Dombrowski. “I had a lot of success really early in my cycling career. I started late, and I was really good straightaway. I struggled when I moved up to the WorldTour, and I didn’t really know what was wrong for about a year. Around this time last year, we had finally sorted things out. I had the operation on my iliac artery last August.”

 

“This year, it was like starting from zero, almost like being a neo-pro again,” Dombrowski said. “I’ve had to take my time to build-up and hopefully deliver the results I feel like I’m capable of achieving. This is the best thing I’ve done yet in this comeback year, if you will. I’m really happy about it.”

 

The queen stage of the Tour of Utah would always be the most important for the overall contenders, and Cannondale-Garmin was all in for Dombrowski. The 24-year-old had kept a low profile during the first five stages as he quietly bided his time for the mountains to come.

 

The 177.7-kilometer stage that began in Salt Lake City included four categorized climbs. The first two classified climbs on Little and Big Mountain in the first half of the stage served as an appetizer for the higher mountains in the second half of the stage – the category one climb to Guardsmen’s Pass and the HC climb to the Snowbird Ski and Summer resort. The first order of the day for Cannondale-Garmin was to put a rider in the early breakaway.

 

Alex Howes and Ruben Zepuntke bridged across to the early escape that looked as if it might be the move of the day, but the group grew too big. Cooperation waned and the pack wasn’t ready to give the move the nod, so eventually Howes, Zepuntke and most of their break-mates returned to the bunch.

 

Ben King was part of the next big breakaway attempt – and this escape proved more successful. King was one of 11 riders that had made it into the move and went on to spend the next four hours off the front of the peloton.

 

“We knew that today was the biggest day for the general classification,” noted Dombrowski. “Our plan was to make sure we had someone in the breakaway today, so that when I hit the bottom of the climb to Snowbird, I would have a teammate there. We did that with Ben, and it worked out perfectly.”

 

The break began to splinter going up and over the category one Guardsmen’s Pass. Eleven become five then three then two. King lost contact just over the top but drove hard down the descent to reach the leaders. A leading trio, that included included King, hit the lower the slopes of the final climb with less than a minute over a reduced bunch.

 

“Ruben made it over Guardsmen’s in the peloton, so I had him with me at the bottom of the climb,” Dombrowski explained. “He helped keep me well-positioned toward the front. With Ben up the road, it was perfect.”

 

When the peloton had King and company within sight, Dombrowski attacked, bridging across to his teammate. Dombrowski’s acceleration split the peloton to pieces and set the scene for the race-winning move to come.

 

 

“The climb is somewhat gradual at first,” Dombrowski explained. “Right when I saw Ben, that’s when it started to kick up and get steeper, and I thought this is it. This is the perfect time to go – and so I did.”

 

“I wanted to make the race hard,” Dombrowski added. “I knew maybe I wasn’t the outright favorite for the race but the guys contending for the overall would have to follow me.”

 

And the ones that could did. Woods and Schleck were the first to react. Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) and Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) would follow later.

 

“Ben buried himself for a kilometer or two,” said Dombrowksi. “He rode a really hard tempo. When I looked back, no one was left except Franck Schleck and Mike Woods. When Ben swung off, I put in another dig. Frank followed at first, but eventually everyone was gone.”

 

 

As Dombrowski time trialed toward the finish line, Horner and Berhane joined forces with Woods and Scheck – although Woods, in yellow, was forced to do most of the chase work. As the roads continued to rise, Dombrowski continued to open up the gap.

 

“I was in time trial mode,” he explained. “In the end, I looked at my Garmin and kept my power where I wanted it to be – no big surges. I just rode steady and at my own pace. For me, the biggest thing was putting in as much time as possible, but that obviously goes hand-in-hand with winning the stage.

 

“I knew that I had a little bit of a deficit to make up, so I figured just chance it and go early. We had Ben (King) in the breakaway and it worked out perfectly, actually. I figured as soon as it got steep that I would go to the front and do my thing. I knew maybe [Frank] Schleck or [Chris] Horner, Mike Woods also, would be on my wheel. But with the tailwind it kind of blew up the race, so I figured I would go early and hit it hard.”

 

“From the start of the day the only reason that there was for me to be in the break was to help Joe on Snowbird, and everything went perfectly. It was really cool when I saw Joe coming across, 'oh yeah it's on'," King said.

 

 

Dombrowski’s efforts delivered him the stage win, the yellow jersey and a 50-second advantage to take to Park City on Sunday for the seventh of final stage of the Tour of Utah. For his part, King earned the most aggressive rider award.

 

 

“I want to try to win this race tomorrow,” said Dombrowksi. “I was strong on the climb today, so I think we have a real chance to defend the jersey tomorrow. The team is strong, and I know I can rely on those guys to do everything they can to set us up for the win.”

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