Joe Dombrowski enjoyed a day out front at the Tour of the Alps, making the peloton and the overall contenders go deep to chase him on the 15km Passo San Valentino climb to the finish.
The Astana Qazaqstan rider was caught just three kilometres from the finish after fighting the long and constant gradient, his own limits and the riders chasing him.
After an injury-hit spring, it was a day of satisfaction for the North American even if he did not secure a result.
“It’s not good for your morale when you get dropped in the Volta a Catalunya with 100 riders up front. Now things are going better,” Dombrowski said after pulling on a cape but before riding down the other side of the mountain to the Astana Qazaqstan team bus.
“The first two months of the season were a disaster. I got sick a few times, then had a skin infection a couple of weeks ago, it was thing after thing. This good ride shows I’m going in the right direction.”
Dombrowski made an instinctive decision to jump across to join the 12-rider breakaway that formed on the long valley road south of Bolzano. Ineos Grenadiers forced other teams to lead the chase and so the break appeared to have a chance of stealing the glory. However, they frittered away their lead.
“Before the first climb I was thinking I was going to win the stage because we had seven minutes,” Dombrowski said with belief.
“Then on the climb in the middle of the stage we went quite slow. We still had 2:50 at the bottom of the final climb but on a 15km climb like that, when you’ve been in the break all day, it’s really, really difficult to win. It was a nice try.”
Dombrowski is expected to ride the Tour de Romandie next week, with the Tour de France now more likely to be his Grand Tour of 2023. He won a stage in the 2019 Giro d’Italia but this year’s Tour route offers him more breakaway and stage win opportunities.
“I think it’s going to be the Tour but I’m first reserve for the Giro team too, due to a few guys being injured,” he explained.
“I like the Giro and racing in Italy but there’s a lot of time trials and sprint stages this year, so there aren’t many stages where I have a chance. The Tour de France is more suited to my style.”
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