Joe Dombrowski: Wannabe Economist?
Americans have long been wondering “who is our next cycling hero?” Here in MABRA-land, of course, we’ve all had this gut feeling that our local young stud Joe Dombrowski has a bit of potential. Well, some of that potential was realized recently when Dombrowski won the 36th edition of the GiroBio, or the “Baby Giro” as it is called. Riding for the USA Cycling Development Team, he became the first American ever to this prestigious U-23 race and his name is now joined with previous high-profile winners such as Marco Pantani, Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca, and Francesco Moser.
Dombrowski, who rides domestically for Bontrager-Livestrong, also performed brilliantly at this year’s Amgen Tour of California where he finished 4th place on the Queen Stage ahead of such Americn cycling luminaries as Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner, and Tejay Vangarderen. This result only proves his remarkable resiliance as he had to fight back from a poor showing in the MABRA season opener, Jefferson Cup, where he didn’t win the coveted shiny cup. To many racers, this would have been a crushing psychological blow, but Dombrowski is not a normal MABRA racer; he’s actually good! There are as many stories of his exploits as there are group rides in our area including the one where he showed up late to the line at a ‘cross race and still went on to lap the field while eating beef jerky. Riding a kid’s banana-seat bike. In a pair of “jorts.” Wearing a Hannah Montana backpack and listening to the “Glee” soundtrack. While some of these rumors are less-confirmed than others, the truth is that Dombrowski is a force to be reckoned with. He’s definitely faster than you were, are or ever will be.
Fortunately, he slowed down for a minute to answer a few questions for HalfWheelHell. Generally he’s a man of few words, preferring instead to let his legs to the talking. But here’s what he had to say:
HWH: When you left for Italy, did you think you would win the GiroBio?
JD: I left with one goal in mind, and that was to win.
HWH: Were the Euros OK with a Virginia backwoods redneck beatin’ them at their own game?
JD: I don’t think the Italians like to get beat at their own game! But I’m now Facebook friends with second place Fabio Aru, though… I guess that means we are on good terms?
HWH: What was harder BabyGiro Queen Stage or Jeff Cup?
JD: I think it was easier for me to get away on the queen stage than it ever is at Jeff Cup. I’m actually serious.
HWH: Do you have a favorite local training route or climb?
JD: Tanner’s Ridge Road! I have a really tough climbing ride from my house that features it. Go check it out, but bring a generous cassette!
HWH: So, just between us kids, who’s your least favorite MABRA racer?
JD: Chuck Hutch used to be my nemesis, but he has since left us.
HWH: Ahh, so the door to greatness is finally opened! So what does that mean? Has XO p/b Cisco offer you a Pro contract yet?
JD: We’re in negotiations. I stipulated that I get to ride for myself at Jeff Cup.
HWH: Do you have a favorite — or perhaps I should speak “Euro” — favourite MABRA race?
JD: That’s tough. My top three, in no particular order, would be Lost River Classic, Page Valley Road Race, and Tour of Tucker County.
HWH: Let me put down this doughnut for a minute so we can talk about food. Which is better: Virginia Ham or Italian Prosciutto?
JD: Sorry Virginia, but I’m now a prosciutto addict. Everyone should try prosciutto with cantaloupe. It’s my favorite Italian appetizer.
HWH: But when’s the last time you ate a big nasty burger with some awesomely greasy fries?
JD: I actually had Five Guys for lunch today. I generally eat pretty well, but don’t really restrict myself either.
HWH: Awesome! I’ll eat one of those for lunch today so I can be fast like you. While I dream about it, can you tell me something cool, like “behind the scenes,” from the Baby Giro?
JD: On the transfer to the start of the final stage, I stopped at a coffee shop in a tiny town at the base of Passo Tonale. I walked in, and a group of old guys were reading Gazzetta dello Sport. They recognized me from a full page article I had in the paper that day. We exchanged a copy of the paper for a picture of me with them in the pink jersey.
HWH: That’s pretty cool. I bet they recognized you from your physique, right? Because we notice from your photos that your upper body is, well, let’s just say “you’re a climbing specialist.” So, can you tell us how many push-ups you do every day to get a body like that?
JD: What’s a push-up?
HWH: I’m hoping to do well in some of the ‘cross racing this fall. Umm, you planning on showing up out there? If so, what races because I’m trying to figure out when to plan my weekends off.
JD: I hope to! Last year I enjoyed hitting a few races here and there… it will probably depend on how tired I am feeling after the road season.
HWH: Dang. So you might be beside me on the starting grid and you might not? Well, maybe I’ll work out a bit just in case. Or, maybe you’re spending a lot of your ‘cross practice time learning some new languages for the Euro-scene?
JD: I can understand some Spanish. I keep telling myself I should learn a language in my free time. Cycling is so international, and communication is key!
HWH: Well, all this racing stuff is fine and all, but — seriously — what do you want to be when you grow up?
JD: An economist.
HWH: Good call. I hear they need some of those in Europe these days. Let us know how it goes. I’m really fighting against the urge to say something cheesy like “stay gold, Pony Boy, stay gold.” So just keep in touch, okay!