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Dombrowski fourth on GC after Flagstaff finale in USA Pro Challenge

August 26, 2012

Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) keeps Best Young Rider jersey after Flagstaff

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) with his wife Stephanie on Flagstaff

The long-awaited finale up Flagstaff Mountain did not disappoint fans, but it disappointed many riders. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) lost the yellow jersey, Jens Voigt picked up enough KOM points from his work in the break-away to steal the climber’s jersey from Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), and the climb lacked the length and steepness that could have netted Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) more time on the other GC contenders.

“I wanted to try to go from the bottom just because I needed the time,” Dombrowski said after Stage 6. “I’m going to lose time to some of the top GC guys in the time trial, so I figured if I could get a gap, I’d just go for it and ride aggressive because I’ve got nothing to lose at this point.” He attacked at the bottom, but couldn’t get away. He put at least one important GC rider in difficulty.

When Dombrowski attacked, van Garderen couldn’t follow. His effort provided Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) with important information.

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma — Quick-Step) crosses Flagstaff finish line

“If Tejay didn’t jump on his wheel right away, that means he’s hurting and he’s trying to gamble,” Leipheimer said at the post-race press conference. “I waited to make sure he wasn’t following Dombrowski.” Then Leipheimer launched the attack that earned him the overall leader’s jersey.

Dombrowski took a realistic point of view regarding his chances to gain significant time on Flagstaff. “It would have been nice to get some more time but it’s steep at the bottom and then flattens off. The climb itself is only 15 minutes or so, so it’s hard to really get a gap and maintain it in that amount of time, especially for me, being a little bit less powerful than some of those other guys like Christian or Tejay.” A longer climb would have suited him better.

His ride on Flagstaff moved him up two places on GC to fourth, tied on time with van Garderen 21 seconds behind Leipheimer, and just one place off the overall podium. Dombrowski said he was happy with the day overall.

The Bontrager-Livestrong rider shouldn’t have a problem holding onto the Best Young Rider blue jersey after the final day’s time trial. The next best-placed young rider, Javier Gomez (EPM-UNE), would have to make up one minute and 15 seconds; barring illness or a time-consuming mechanical problem for Dombrowski erasing that gap is unlikely over the 9.5 mile course.

Even with that kind of time cushion Dombrowski should give it everything in Denver. At yesterday’s post-race press conference, when asked about defending his overall lead in the time trial, race leader Leipheimer said, “Anything can happen.”

Flip the possibilities 180 degrees, from defending to picking up time, and there’s a chance Dombrowski will stand on the podium as third overall at the conclusion of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge.

Riders emptied themselves on Stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge. Mike Creed (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) after Flagstaff

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