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10-year professional career comes to a close
Ivan Dominguez (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita) has retired from professional bike racing after showcasing a winning sprint for more than decade amongst top-level races in the US. The Cuban native cited a loss of motivation as his reason for ending his career but assures that he will remain closely tied to the cycling industry.
"I lost my motivation for racing and that is why I decided to stop," Dominguez told Cyclingnews. "I'm retired and I won't be doing any races, unless it is something small. I don't think I will be doing any big stuff. I am also tired of traveling and staying away from home for lots of weeks. I have not signed with a team for next year. I was talking with a couple of teams about the possibility of racing a little and directing a little but I will not be doing anything like that.
"I feel good and retiring is fine with me," he said. "I knew that someday it would come. There are a lot of guys who are racing a lot better than me so my moving out of the way gives those guys a chance to come up. I'm looking forward to retirement."
Dominguez acknowledged that it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a decent salary, or any salary at all, given the tough economic environment over the past several years. Becoming a professional cyclist is not as easy as it once was and the annual contract-team negotiations offer slim-pickings, unless a rider is consistently winning races as Dominguez once was.
"The way I see it in the US is that if you're a good rider you can't get a contract because they think that you are too expensive, when you are a bad rider you can't get a contract because you are not winning races and when you are in the middle you can't get a contract because there are too many riders in the middle. I got tired of this contract stuff."
Dominguez was born in Havana and defected from Cuba to the United States in 1998 after competing in the Goodwill Games under the Cuban National Team. He took on a job in a shoe factory in Miami, Florida and raced part-time. He turned professional in 2001 with the Saturn Pro Cycling Team and quickly became renowned as one of America's fastest sprinters, winning many of the most prestigious races in the country.
He competed over the years with professional teams like Health Net-Maxxis, Colavita-Bolla, Toyota-United, Fuji Servetto and Rock Racing, ending his career with Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita in 2010. He was granted US citizenship in February of 2009.
"It's not only US racing but I started out winning races in Cuba," Dominguez said. "I'm happy with everything that I have done from coming to the US, starting from nothing and winning bike races. I wish I could have done more but that is hard when you lose your motivation and you don't even want to look at your bike."
His palmares is extensive with hundreds of victories including a stage at the Tour of California and double wins at the inaugural Tour of Missouri in 2007, USA Crits Series overall winner in 2006, CSC Invitational in 2005, Bank of America Criterium in 2004, Cuban National Championships and Pan American Games in 1997.
"Every day in my career was nice," Dominguez said. "All the races that I won were very special. But most of my memories are of the new people that I met during my career. I like meeting new guys who were my teammates and being able to work together. After the races we would go out with the cycling people all together and that was nice. I will keep those memories that I have with those people for the rest of my life. I'm really going to miss them."
In 2009, as a new father, Dominguez was presented with the rare opportunity of competing at the ProTour level with Fuji-Servetto, now called Geox for 2011. He ended his contract early, after experiencing six months of racing, and returned Stateside to race under the now defunct Rock Racing team.
"I can't say that I was 100 percent happy," Dominguez said. "I didn't want to go there before I signed the contract because it is really hard when you have a baby and family and everything back here in the US. I don't think I was ready to go there but the opportunity presented itself and I'm happy that I gave it a shot at least. It didn't work but I'm still glad that I tried it."
Dominguez said that he is not completely walking away from cycling and he envisions a future in the sport's industry. He will announce a new career path at a later date.
"I want to stay in the bike industry," Dominguez said. "I want to start doing some Gran Fondo and rides that raise money for foundations and causes. I've always liked to do those things so if I can help with that then I am happy. Plus, there might be some other opportunities for me in the industry."
During his career, Dominguez acquired a reputation for being one of the peloton's frequent party-goers and admitted that retirement was a good excuse to throw a going-away fiesta.
"I definitely want to plan something, like a party, because I don't want to disappear from cycling and no one knows where I went," Dominguez laughed. "I gotta throw a big party in Miami or something big like that."