The Tour de Pologne will be the first stage race for Skujins after crashing out of the Tour of California in May. The Latvian hasn't raced since the national championships in June and explained he is refreshed and ready for the WorldTour race starting Sunday in Krakow.
"The plan is simple. Race and test the body. Clearly I have done just two races since my crash in California and I've been training hard, so now I am just going to test out the body in racing," said Skujins. "Training has been going really well and the body feels great, but once you throw yourself into a race and push yourself to the limit it's a bit different. I'm pumped to test myself out and build a good block of intensity in for the second part of the year."
Skujins won a stage at the Coppi e Bartali and finished second overall and will be hoping for similar results on familiar roads in Poland across the seven-stage race.
"The fans in Poland are pretty cool and I've acquired quite a few there. I've also raced plenty around Poland when I was coming through the ranks, so it's a bit like coming back to the roots, only at higher speeds and with a deeper field," he said. "On top of that, add good hotels and organizers that really make an effort to make the race exciting and enjoyable. It's a winning combo."
Dombrowski also makes his return to racing after a month's break following his early-season schedule that included the Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse. The 26-year-old has raced in America over late July and August in recent years, including winning the Tour of Utah in 2015, but has decided on a European racing programme that includes making his Tour de Pologne debut. With Polish heritage, Dombrowski explained he is looking forward to more than just the sporting aspects of the race.
"I'm excited to get back into racing after a break with Tour of Poland. I've never done the race, so it will be a new experience for me. I've also never been to Poland, so I'm actually really looking forward to seeing a new part of the world," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski rode the Giro and Vuelta in 2016 and is aiming to do so again in 2017 with the Tour de Pologne an important preparation race,
"The plan is to race the Vuelta later this summer, and this will be a different preparation than I have done the past couple years. I think it's a good change. In addition, my last name is Dombrowski and I am part Polish, so there is that," he added.
Complementing the two riders is a versatile squad to provide the team with multiple avenues to stage win success. In the mountains, Davide Formolo will be a man to watch while Tom-Jelte Slagter and Tom Van Asbroeck will contest the middle-mountain stages. Kristijan Koren and Davide Villella round out the squad.
"The team we have is solid. We are going to try every day to sprint, and also in the mountain stages we have possibilities," said sports director Fabrizio Guidi. "Our group is motivated and healthy and the course suits us. There's no final TT. The shorter stages and nervous course will make this race interesting. We are ready."
The Tour de Pologne takes places July 29 to August 4 with the race concluding in Bukowina Tatrzanska.
Cannondale-Drapac for the 2017 Tour de Pologne: Joe Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Kristijan Koren, Toms Skujins, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Tom Van Asbroeck and Davide Villella.
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