Joe Dombrowski finished safely in the main peloton at the end of stage one of the Tour of Oman, ensuring his full professional debut at Team Sky went smoothly and uneventfully as any neo-pro could hope for.
Dombrowski rode the Tour of California and the US Pro Challenge in 2012, finishing 12th and 10th overall respectively. He also won the Under 27 GiroBio, the amateur Giro d'Italia. He has already rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the professional peloton and beaten them. Yet his first race in Team Sky's black and blue was a historic moment of what many believe could be a remarkable career.
"I wasn't too nervous. I was pretty mellow," Dombrowski told Cyclingnews after wiping off the sweat and washing down following the four hours in the saddle.
"It was good. It was a pretty relaxed day and so a relaxed start to it all. It's a nice place to start my first race."
Team Sky rode to protect Chris Froome's overall chances. Bradley Wiggins was hindered by a late crash and lost time but Team Sky will looking to set up Froome for overall success in Oman.
"I just want to keep the team's GC ambitions alive and help out there where I can," Dombrowski said of his role in the team's strategy for the stage and the race.
"There was nothing too specific today. Hopefully I can just keep on staying safe. The fourth stage looks pretty decisive and hopefully we can put something together there."
Dombrowski will be 22 on May 12. He will likely celebrate his birthday while riding the Giro d'Italia with team leader Bradley Wiggins after being tipped for a place in the Giro d'Italia squad. The Virginia-born American is wise beyond his years and seems able to take his professional debut in his stride, as if it was just another step in a long career.
"Things have been going well. I moved to Nice in the off-season. That's been a change and there's been a lot of little things that you have to get used to and learn about. It's been a little difficult at times but overall I'm pretty happy with where I am now," he said.
Despite being a little shy and reserved, Dombrowski seems to have quickly fit in at Team Sky. He rightly does not hold some of his big-name teammates in false awe.
"Even though we've got some of the best guys in the world in the team, you don't get that feeling when you're hanging out with them. At the dinner table they're just normal guys. I like that and it's helped me fit in really well."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.