Dombrowski extends with EF Education First-Drapac

'This season is not really what I was hoping for' admits 27-year-old American

Joe Dombroswki has re-signed with EF Education First-Drapac for 2019, giving the 27-year-old American a sixth year with the US-registered WorldTour team run by Jonathan Vaughters.

Dombrowski finished fifth overall at the 2018 Colorado Classic and sixth overall at the 2018 Tour of Utah, a race he won in 2015.

"It's not a secret that the last couple of seasons have not been what I wanted results-wise," Dombrowski said. "I'm focused on doing what I need to do to get back to the the level that I know I'm capable of in races."

Despite Dombrowski's disappointing results since moving to EF-Drapac from Team Sky, where he spent his two neo-pro seasons, Vaughters said he's confident Dombrowski is still capable of success in the pro peloton.

"It's great to have Joe back," Vaughers said. "He knows our team and has been a great presence here over the years. Joe had a spectacular 2016 season, where he was in multiple breaks at that year’s Giro and finished third in the hardest mountain stage. The last couple years have been a bit of a struggle for him, but in the end, talent doesn't just go away. We want to give that talent an opportunity to rebuild."

Dombrowki had been linked to Team Sunweb, saying that was one of teams he spoke to, but that he was always keen to stay with EF Education First-Drapac.

Dombrowski won the U23 Giro d’Italia in 2012, beating Fabio Aru. He was signed by Team Sky for 2013 but struggled due to an undiagnosed Iliac artery problem. He eventually underwent surgery in the summer of 2014 and restarted his professional career with the Cannondale team the following year.

Dombrowski showed his potential by winning the 2015 Tour of Utah, and he went on to ride the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in both 2016 and 2017.

He has been a member of Vaughters’ program for five seasons, but he admitted that this year was a struggle. After the spring season of shorter stage races, he competed in the Giro d’Italia and then the Tour de Suisse. He did have some good performances, with sixth overall at Tour of Utah and fifth at the Colorado Classic.

"This season is not really what I was hoping for. It’s not really a big disappointment but not what I was looking for either,” Dombrowski told Cyclingnews.

"I wouldn’t really pin it on any one thing. I had to change something going forward and for next year, I need to set good objectives and so get back to the trajectory I was on and achieve what I set as goals.”

Dombrowski has competed in a series of one-day races in September and October, but has only finished two of the seven he started: Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli and Milano-Torino. He crashed in the rain at Gran Piemonte last Thursday but rode Il Lombardia on Saturday in support of Michael Woods and Rigoberto Uran. He is set to end his season at the Japan Cup on October 21.

In Tuesday's announcement, Dombrowski said he was ready to embrace the team's new ethos of competing in non-traditional events like Gran Fondos and gravel grinders. Dombrowski competed in the Leadville 100 MTB race in 2016.

"My first focus is, of course, on the traditional road calendar, but the alternative race program is also quite interesting," he said. "I got my start racing mountain bike and cyclocross. I still jump in the odd cyclocross race in the off-season and in 2016 I raced Leadville with this team.

"Cycling's fan base, particularly in America, is a participatory one. It's not the same as the traditional American sports in that sense. Professional road cycling can be quite insular and convoluted. With a participatory fan base, watching races is not what creates a feeling of engagement in the sport.

"My motivation to race in other events in the past has always been as a fun outlet, but I have also found that they develop a strong connection to the cycling community," Dombrowski added. "It's something I like to see as a way of giving back and engaging with the community that has allowed me to have a career in this sport. I think this project can be just that on a much larger scale, and I look forward to seeing where it goes."

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