Dombrowski: Riding with Nibali is like playing alongside Jordan or Woods

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Joe Dombrowski makes a change for 2022 from UAE Team Emirates to Astana Qazaqstan after a season that saw him claim the biggest victory of his career to date with a stage at the Giro d’Italia.

The American climber turned pro in 2013 and has since raced for some of the most notable teams in the peloton, with Sky and EF also among his career stoppages. Now 30, Dombrowski joins the Kazakh team, where he looks forward to racing alongside Vincenzo Nibali, who returns to the team after a five-year absence.

Talk to Cycling news From his first training camp with the team, Dombrowski compared the chance to ride with the Italian – one of seven riders to have won all three Grand Tours – to playing alongside basketball player Michael Jordan or golfer Tiger Woods.

“I think it’s actually exciting to have a rider like Nibali on the team, in the sense that if I look at my time as a rider in the WorldTour, being a teammate with guys who are like – if you watch other sports – if you’ve played with Jordan or Tiger Woods or Kobe [Bryant]. It’s cool to be a teammate with someone who is such a big name in the sport and I guess I’ve always admired their art of running, ”said Dombrowski.

“Obviously he’s a very strong rider and one of the best of his generation and winning all the Grand Tours is a hell of a lot, but one of the things I found most intriguing about him as a rider is , it’s the way he not only has physical abilities but also exceptional racing skills “, he added, referring to Nibali’s superb victory at the Giro d’Italia 2016.

“I think when I stop cycling and look at the people that I was really happy I had the chance to be a teammate, I think he would be one of them. “

Nibali himself has two Giro victories to his name and will return to the race for 2022 in addition to racing on the Five Monuments. The Grand Tour of Italy is a race with which Dombrowski has an affinity, having run there six times and achieving his best overall result with a 12th place in 2019.

He said he was not yet sure exactly what his racing schedule would be for next season, but noted that it would be a dream to do the Tour de France while recognizing that the Giro is best suited to his style and to its capabilities.

“I think I did my first Grand Tour in 2015 and since then I’ve always done the Giro,” said Dombrowski. “I feel really comfortable and at home at the Giro and with my characteristics, maybe this is the race that suits me the most on the calendar.

“Long climbs, tough stages and generally a heavy second half of the race with a lot of tough mountain stages. For me, it’s almost like the race gets easier as people get more tired.

“As you noted, I have never done the Tour de France and it would definitely be a dream to do so. I live in Nice and I speak French and my neighbors always ask me if I am doing the Tour de France. this year. It would be nice if I had the opportunity but at this camp there will be a session to talk about the race program and our expectations. If it is there, I would be delighted but, as I Said it, I feel comfortable with the Giro, maybe I could do both.

This year Dombrowski went to the Giro and, although he did not finish the race for the first time in his career after a painful stage 6 accident while wearing the mountain jersey, he won. his first WorldTour victory with a solo ride to the top of Sestola. .

Throughout his career, Dombrowski balanced his work for GC leaders such as Rigoberto Urán, Michael Woods and David de la Cruz with his own shot at glory in the mountains. At the Vuelta a España in August he was in the mix for another Grand Tour stage victory, finishing second over Picón Blanco behind Rein Taaramäe.

“Unless you’re really one of the best of the best sprinters or runners in GC, which we can probably count on these guys, you kind of have to be cautious and pick your days to go all-in. ,” he said.

“You kind of have to allocate your energy in the most efficient and smart way in the sense that, depending on the composition of the team, you’re going to have a certain role – whether you have a sprinter or a GC leader for whom. So it’s about making the most of it when you are needed for the team and doing the minimum when you are not needed, unless there is an opportunity when it can be. present for you.

“So it’s about finding in the Grand Tour narrative where your space is. So like you say with the Giro the UAE is a team with a lot of strong riders so I would say most of the time, my role is to help the team leaders. But the stage that I won there was one of those days when I had the opportunity to get a free card, and when it comes I have to Sometimes nothing comes of it and sometimes it can change your career.

“I would say that in a way you sort of build up this wealth of experience that you don’t even really recognize that you have done it, but just by doing it you learn. guess i’m feeling more mature about things Coming back to the Grand Tour story and understanding where your opportunities are, i think with experience you kinda get a better idea of ​​the pace of the races , your place and how you can contribute. “

Dombrowski will now head to 2022 looking to build on his 2021 campaign, which has seen him add that Giro has won two stages and an overall Tour of Utah victory in the past. A decent season, that’s how he described the year, but the two remarkable results from Giro and Vuelta will surely give him confidence for a team from which he has only heard positive things in the past.

“Overall I would say it was a pretty decent season for me. It took me a while to recover from that Giro crash. Guess you would call it a slight concussion. Don’t really shoot. on all cylinders for a while, ”he said.

“But luckily I had the chance to do the Vuelta. It was another great opportunity and again a big part of my role was to help the other riders on the team but as you say , I almost won the stage to Picon Blanco It’s something to build on for next year, that’s for sure.

“I guess seeing Astana from the outside since I was a runner I’ve always heard good things from people outside the team. You never really know what a team is like until you were getting there, even though they are all the same but different. I had heard good things and I was in contact with [Alexandre] Vinokourov [team manager -ed.] and we talked a bit about the team and I felt like it was a team in which I would have great opportunities. I had the opportunity to come here and here I am.

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