Ivan Dominquez has been one of the top sprinters in the United States for a decade, but after years of victories he is now eligible, for the first time, to sprint for the stars and stripes jersey at the US Pro Criterium Championships held in Downers Grove on Sunday.
Dominguez defected from Cuba to the United States in 1998 after his beginnings as a track competitor. He has capitalized off an almost unbeatable sprint to win many of the most prestigious races in the country, competing over the years with former professional teams like Saturn, Health Net-Maxxis, Colavita-Bolla and Toyota-United. After a mid-season switch from the Fuji-Servetto ProTour team, Dominguez competes for Rock Racing.
He was granted US citizenship in February which allows him to race for the championship jersey this weekend. The ‘open' style event allows for non-US citizens racing for professional American teams to compete. Although he has competed on the Downers Grove course on eight occasions, he has never won the bunch sprint and hopes that this will be his winning year.
"I would like to win it, like any other US guy," Dominguez said. "It depends how the field is this weekend. We also have [defending champion Rashaan] Bahati. I feel good but he is much better than me in these situations. The course suits him better. We will go for him 100 percent unless he's not feeling good, and then I'll try."
Dominguez makes it no secret that the championship's technical figure-eight circuit is not well-suited to his abilities. However, he should not be discounted as a race favorite having won the previous day's ‘warm-up' race on two occasions, which uses the same circuit.
"I've won the day before twice but never the championships race," said Dominguez. "I will race on Saturday too, but this time I will try not to kill myself in that one. I usually don't feel good after the warm-up race. This time I will go easy in the warm up race to be fresh for the next day."
Dominguez dislikes the final corner, which is close to the finish line - favoring not just a strong sprinter but one willing to take risks to get through the corner at the front.
"Either you die or you win the race and I'm not ready to die yet," he said hoping race organizers will consider altering the course for the safety of the riders.
"I think the last corner takes the race away from a lot of guys who just don't want to crash really bad. That last turn is too crazy. I don't understand why they keep having the race with that turn. If it was 200 metres from the line then I think different people would win the race. I keep saying that one day there is going to be a very serious accident in that corner and is it going to take that for them to change it?"
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.