Joe Dombrowski, after dealing with leg surgery and recovery, wants to capitalise on his abilities to ride for the general classification starting in 2017.
The 25-year-old, who rode for Team Sky and the last two years with Cannondale, earned experience from three Grand Tours. This year could see him think about the bigger three-week picture.
“It’s a possibility,” Dombrowski told Cycling Weekly about riding for the overall classification in the Giro d’Italia, May 5 to 28.
“If I tried, it’d be in a secondary role. Say if [Rigoberto] Urán races for the overall again then I could be a second option, a free card allowed to stay at the front. At some point you have to make it your goal. You have to commit and try.”
The American refused to shy away from the question when asked about targeting and overall win. He added, “If you have the capability, which I think I do, then it’s a waste to not try to capitalise on that at some point.”
The same determination earned him a win in the Baby Giro in 2012. The organiser stopped the amateur Giro d’Italia after that edition, but is re-starting it again in 2017.
However, while Italian Fabio Aru, who placed second in the 2012 Baby Giro, blossomed and won Grand Tour stages and then the Vuelta a España overall in 2015, Dombrowski struggled for footing.
Like many first year professionals, Dombrowski understandably needed time to adjust. And, something he and Sky discovered late, he suffered from an iliac artery endofibrosis.
The lack of blood flow caused dramatic power loss in his left leg. Surgery in August meant that he spent much of 2015 recovering.
“Maybe I haven’t delivered on what the people thought I’d deliver, but if I break it down, with my injuries and setbacks… If I consider everything since the re-start in 2015, it’s been good steady process for me,” he added.
“I don’t feel any negative pressure, maybe when I was at Sky I did because there was a lot of hype, but if you have an injury and you don’t know what it is, they don’t know what it is, then that’s a big stress.
“If Aru had the same injury, he’d be in the same place. I’m not going to let it bug me, some things are beyond your control.”
Dombrowski’s “re-start” worked and when asked if he is ready to take on more responsibility, he answered, “Yes.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2017 essential guide
He won the Tour of Utah in 2015 and raced his in first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España.
In 2016, he pointed out with a laugh that he failed to win, but rode with the Giro’s stars over Italy’s highest passes and edged towards a stage win from escapes. He showed three-week longevity by fighting to win the final mountain stage on the final climb while Vincenzo Nibali wrestled the overall lead from Esteban Chaves.
“I rode well in the Giro. I’d like to build on that. I know that sounds vague, but there’s a strong chance I’ll do the Giro and given the final week, which looks pretty nasty and mountainous, it suits me,” Dombrowski said.
“I’d like to go to some of the races with more GC ambitions. I don’t know which races, but that’s a good stepping point.”
US WorldTour team Cannondale-Drapac has yet to finalise its Giro roster, but they’ll almost certainly race against stars like Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).
It appears, though, that Dombrowski will have his place.