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Neo-pro Dombrowski cuts Livestrong band, embraces Sky’s approach

MILAN (VN) — Joe Dombrowski (Sky) is enjoying the moment. He is training along the French Riviera and looking ahead to Tirreno-Adriatico after helping Chris Froome win the Tour of Oman. The time is right to turn the page and to be a professional — and to leave the yellow Livestrong wristband in the trash bin.

Neo-pro Joe smiles. His future is bright, but he remains skeptical.

“I guess I’m happy I’m coming into cycling now as opposed to what seems like a distance past,” Dombrowski told VeloNews. “But then you read about [Michael] Rasmussen for example, who says, ‘I doped up until 2010.’ That was a little more recent than is comfortable. There’s always going to be guys that are cheating in cycling or any profession.”

Dombrowski became the first American to win one of the toughest amateur races last year, the GiroBio, more commonly known as the Baby Giro d’Italia. That, and a successful year with Bontrager-Livestrong, caused many professional teams to offer him contracts for 2013.

“Yeah,” he continued, “I had a lot of offers.”

The 21-year-old concerned himself with joining an English-speaking team where training and science came first. Sky checked all of the boxes, he said.

Dombrowski read the Sky’s the Limit book before he signed so he knows the team’s story.

Performance Director David Brailsford wanted to take British cycling to a new level after a haul of eight medals at the Beijing Olympics. Sky, who already sponsored track cycling, agreed to increase its commitment. The outfit announced its road team in February 2009 with the mission to produce a clean British Tour de France winner within five years. They did it in three with Bradley Wiggins last year.

Sky’s commitment comforted Dombrowski and his parents.

“I think that particularly with Sky with everything so integrated, with them analyzing the data and providing the training plans, it sort of gives them more access and less room for riders [to dope],” Dombrowski explained. “My mom was not totally comfortable about me being involved with a sport with so much negative press. She was totally oblivious to all of that, but now with more and more coming out, it seems like, what can you really believe in? And when can you believe it has changed? We say that [it has changed], but why should we believe when it’s been said that last 10 or 15 years?

“I know enough about physiological data to at least say it’s slowed down some and it’s not as bad. But I can see from my mom’s perspective or a fan’s perspective, where at some point you just stop believing what people are saying because you’ve been lied to for so long.”

Livestrong bracelet

Dombrowski can somewhat thank Lance Armstrong for his success. He raced for the under-23 development team that Armstrong created. At times, the former great, now known as a drug cheat, would join the youngsters for training rides, including the time he offered a $1,000 prize to the first rider atop Figueroa Mountain. Armstrong won and kept his money.

What happened to Dombrowski’s yellow Livestrong wristband that Armstrong made so popular?

During a Sky meeting in London last October, Dombrowski and fellow American Ian Boswell were initiated. During a “drink-off” Wiggins leaned over and told his new teammate he had to remove the yellow wristband. Though initially associated with the cancer fight, it now has too many negative associations.

What was the outcome of the drink-off?

“Ian lasted longer,” Dombrowski said with a grin. “His tolerance is a little better than mine.”