Cannondale-Drapac targets Tour of Utah defense

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Defending champion Joe Dombrowski headlines a strong Cannondale-Drapac squad seeking its fourth straight general classification title at Tour of Utah.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Tour of Utah and hopefully successfully defending my title,” said Dombrowski. “It’s a beautiful race in a beautiful state. I have good memories here.”

The 25-year-old raced his maiden Giro d’Italia earlier this year where he twice finished in the top ten on mountain stages and spent several days in the early breakaways. The results he recorded belie the effort he made to chase his first Grand Tour victory. Although he left Italy without the stage win he targeted, Dombrowski left the Giro stronger and more confident.

He backed up his efforts at the Giro with a solid performance at Tour de Suisse. From there it was a mid-season break, which included a vacation in London and a solid month training at home in Virginia.

In Park City since Wednesday, Dombrowski will have spent five days acclimating to altitude before the race begins on Monday, August 1.

“It’s what I did last year before the race, and it worked out really well,” explained Dombrowski. “It gives you a chance to get acclimated to the altitude, which is important for the race, but the time at altitude before the race and then the race itself serve as a mini-altitude camp – and it’s a much nicer way of doing altitude than Tenerife.”

Dombrowski is one of five Americans lining up for Cannondale-Drapac in Utah. The 25-year-old is joined by Andrew Talansky, Ben King, Nate Brown and Phil Gaimon. Italian Alberto Bettiol and British stagiaire Jon Dibben round out the squad for the seven-day stage race.

“Joe will be our leader,” said sport director Bingen Fernandez. “We have chances with Andrew, too, but with the defending champion, we give him the respect of our support.”

“We have extra motivation coming from racing with the defending champion and having won it for the last three years,” said Fernandez. “For sure, we are going to try to win in Utah again.”

Like last year, Fernandez expects the race to be decided during the final two stages. Last August, Dombrowski won stage six into Snowbird with a brilliant solo effort – brilliant enough to put him in yellow. Dombrowski started the final stage as race leader, and finished alongside his main challengers in Park City to win the Tour of Utah.

While the 13th edition of the Tour of Utah includes familiar climbs on the queen stage into Snowbird and a similar circuit around Park City as a finale to a solid week of racing, the routes are not identical to the ones Dombrowski won on last year.

“Those last two stages are hard, and they are where the race will be decided,” said Fernandez. “Snowbird and Park City have been the deciding stages in the past, so we know this.”

“But we can’t lose time in the other stages,” he added. “We can’t relax. Altitude is hard, and we need to be careful not to lose seconds in silly places. We will need to pay attention on every single stage to be in a position to race for the GC over the weekend.”

Cannondale-Drapac for Tour of Utah:
Nate Brown
Alberto Bettiol
Jon Dibben
Joe Dombrowski
Phil Gaimon
Bek King
Andrew Talansky