Joe Dombrowski has revealed that he will ride the testing Leadville 100 mountain bike on August 13 – after his attempt to defend his title at the Tour of Utah and riding the Vuelta a Espana – the second Grand Tour of his 2016 season.
Dombrowski started his racing career on a mountain bike as a junior and will return to his roots, riding with the World Bicycle Relief charity team. Dombrowski's ability and adaption to altitude could help be a contender at Leadville but he may also opt to enjoy his day in the Colorado high country.
"From a road schedule perspective, it's certainly not a conventional run-in to the Vuelta. I wouldn't say it's not ideal, but in truth, it might not be," Dombrowski said of his unusual race programme.
Dombrowski has already raced for 53 days this season and the Vuelta a Espana will take him past 70 days in the saddle. He impressed at the Giro d'Italia with a series of attacks on mountain stages and finished third on the final mountain stage to Sant'Anna di Vinadio, when Vincenzo Nibali snatched overall victory from Esteban Chaves.
Before swapping his road bike for his mountain bike, Dombrowski will target a second victory at the Tour of Utah and has spent the last week training at altitude in Park City. He will travel to Leadville from the stage race and then fly quickly to Spain for the Vuelta that begins on August 20.
"It was really something we discussed half-jokingly, and I half-committed to, provided that it would fit inside my race schedule," Dombrowski explained when the Cannondale team confirmed the surprise addition to his racing calendar.
"I've had a big early season with a focus on the Giro d'Italia and a lot of race days, so I think it's motivating in a way to have some fun objectives in the latter half of the year. Initially, I was the most hesitant but Jonathan Vaughters, our media guy Matt Beaudin, and Cannondale loved the idea. It's a little tight between Utah and the Vuelta but I'm just gonna go for it and have fun. I started racing bikes in the dirt, so it's back to my roots.
"It's a really unique challenge for me. As a professional road cyclist, I don't do anything for myself. My bike is prepped, my soigneurs are in the feed zone, and all the logistics surrounding the race are taken care of. Here it's like back in the old days going to junior mountain bike races with my dad. I've got to pick my gears, pump up my tires with help from my mechanic Tom Hopper, have my guy in the feed zone, and scarf down oatmeal at 4:30 a.m. to be ready to roll out at sunrise. It's a lot to take on, but I'm up for the challenge."