Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 10 July 2020

Joe Dombrowski: My debut season with UAE Team Emirates may have been disrupted but I am keeping fit and optimistic

In the latest column from UAE Team Emirates, Joe Dombrowski discusses his first few months with the team and hopes for the rest of the season

Joe Dombrowski signed for UAE Team Emirates ahead of the 2020 season after four years with Cannondale–Garmin. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates
Joe Dombrowski signed for UAE Team Emirates ahead of the 2020 season after four years with Cannondale–Garmin. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates

Like everyone, I have had ups and downs in my career, but I think anyone who sets out on any fruitful venture, be it bike racing or otherwise, does so based on optimism. I think it’s incredibly important to stay positive and optimistic especially in trying times.

As a team we got off to a tremendous start this year, winning 11 times in the first two months. We worked very hard during the off season in the winter and it seemed like all that hard work was paying off. We were going into every race with our tails up, the momentum on our side and winning.

Of course, it was disappointing to have to stop racing, but if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, as athletes, we are not alone in this and the correct decision was made.

My first race in 2020, and my first race for UAE Team Emirates, was the Tour of Valencia. Overall, it was a good start to the year for me, but in Spain I had a couple crashes which put a dampener on things.

However, this was the first chance I had of riding with Tadej Pogacar which was an absolute pleasure - especially when he won so convincingly! Tadej is a very special talent and looks to have a great future ahead of him.

I felt quite good in Portugal, my next race, and was riding strongly. I was there to support Rui Costa, so it wasn’t a race that I’d be chasing my own results. UAE Team Emirates has a very talented roster, and so in coming to a team like this, everyone must do their part.

I was there to help the team and back Rui where needed. In my own head this race confirmed my reasoning to join UAE Team Emirates, I thought ‘yeah, I’m where I need to be now’ which was great.

When we get back to racing, I hope with hard work, focus and a bit of luck I can show the team that I deserve some freedom, too. I think it would’ve been a good spring for me had the season not been stopped.

My primary focus originally for the season was the Giro d'Italia (at least for the first half of the year). After that, we would have needed to reassess and make new objectives for the second half of the year. Of course, all that planning has now been thrown out the window and we will have to sit down again when the race organisers decide how the season will play out.

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I am optimistic that we will still be racing later this year, and when we have a clearer picture of what that might look like, everyone can start thinking more seriously about their objectives.

In the meantime, it’s about keeping fit, staying positive and looking at the scenario pragmatically - it’s not often pro cyclists get to spend so much time with their families during this time of the year, so for that, I am grateful.

Pre-isolation I was spending my time in Nice, France with my wife, but we returned to the US a few weeks ago. In Nice we live downtown in the port so it’s very difficult to go outside and cycle, in the States we live in a more rural area, and I felt at this time, it would be a better move for us. Generally speaking, Nice has become our home but we still get back to the US over the holidays.

We are lucky for the time being that in the US outdoor activity with strict social distancing measures is still permitted, which has been a huge relief as I am able to carry on cycling. It’s important to stay fit during this layoff and it’s given me a chance to focus on things that are easier to neglect during the race season, like strength and mobility work.

I wish everyone in the UAE all the best and hope that everyone is following the policies put in place by the UAE government. Stay home, stay safe.

Updated: April 8, 2020 01:58 PM

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