"Huge results at Gila on the final day. Craddock and Boswell go 1-2 on Stage 5, Dombrowski Takes 3rd in the GC, and Bontrager takes the team GC. Congrats boys!!!" - from the Bontrager LIVESTRONG Website.
Hmmm....this year Gila was added to the UCI America Tour as a UCI classification 2.2 stage race, so any teams left out of the Tour of California that complained about LIVESTRONG getting in should have proven their worth there, but what happened was LIVESTRONG showed why they deserved the invite by kicking these cry babies in the junk then doing a Chuck Norris round house and kicked them in the teeth.
I have been lucky enough to be picked on by one of their riders on many occasions, Joe Dombrowski. A few years ago, this category 3, 18-year-old messaged me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to ride with him. I was interested in training on some new roads in Northern Virginia, and he said he knew them all very well, and would love to show me. The first time we rode, I tore out a huge chunk of my sidewall trying to keep up with him on a gravel decent in the first five miles after leaving Haymarket Bicycles of Hwy 66.
The next time we rode, the only thing that got blown out was my self esteem. I had been hitting the mountains consistently for a few months over the winter and had somehow been able to convince myself that I had become a climber. Joe said he knew a really good route with a pretty long climb in it. Him and I meet up with Mike Githens (who now has moved to the best state in the world, California) and "Terrible Terry". Joe failed to mention that this cool route was about 120 miles long and that the climb was an eight miler and that the turn around was the snow covered summit.
The roads were awesome, this kid knew his way around. When we got to the base of the climb, I told him I would meet him at the top, put my headphones in and started to tap the climb out jamming to VeloBeats. About three miles into the climb, I looked back to see how far I had dropped the guys and only counted two. Joe was still there and I think I took him to the curb looking back not knowing he was sitting on me. No problem for him, he just smiled, went around me, and began floating up the hill. I suddenly felt very heavy. I tried to keep him in my sites, but watching how smooth he could climb just made me feel like the fat awkward kid at the dance club and it was messing with my head and hurting my feelings.
A few weeks after this, Joe won, as a Cat 3, Jeff Cup in the Pro, 1,2,3 event. In the pouring Mid Atlantic rain, in the last ten miles, he rode away from the field, across a two minute gap, caught the break and won solo - beating all of the best elite riders in the region.
I was thinking of posting a montage of photos, like "Joe dropping me here", and "Joe ridding me off his wheel here", put I will post just this one. It pretty much sums up my riding experience with this kid.
To make up for all of the beatings Joe has given me, in both races and training, he said he would grant me an interview. Thanks Joe
Chuck - How stoked are you that Bontrager-Livestrong got the invite to TOC?
Joe - We are all really excited. For us, this will be the first time racing ProTour guys. I think it will be an eye opening learning experience, but also a chance to show ourselves on a huge stage.
C - What do you think about the teams that didn’t make it in? Have you heard any of the complaints?
J - In the end there are only so many teams that can get an invite. In our case, we aren't really bumping any other teams out besides other domestic teams. When you look at our performance in domestic races against other domestic teams, I think it shows that we deserved our invite. Obviously teams that are left out are always going to complain… for domestic pro teams, the Tour of California is their Tour de France.
C - How concerned was Axel Merckx, and yourself that Marc Pro – Strava may be competing against you at TOC?
J - We were shaking in our boots! C - Did the team feel a sense of relief when Marc Pro - Strava was not invited?
J - We were just glad we bumped you out of an invite. ;p
C - How sick was it to be riding in the leader’s jersey at Gila? I bet you can’t wait for that feeling again. Do you have more of a drive now to take a prize like that home?
J - It was really nice. I held the jersey last year for the first few stages, but lost it in the time trial. This year I've been working on my time trial a lot, and it paid off. It was a good feeling to be able to hold the jersey from start to finish and prove that I am a rider that can do more than just climb. C - What do you think about getting the Best Young Rider’s Jersey at Gila? Is that something you will go for at TOC?
J - Gila is a good test. The field was deeper this year since the race went UCI. TOC is on a whole other level, but I do think that the best young rider jersey is attainable, and it's something we will definitely be going for. Winning a jersey next week really can be life changing. C - Do you feel your performance at Gila has silenced Bontrager-Livestrong’s critics?
J - Haters gonna hate! But seriously, I think it shows that we can operate on as a high a level as any other domestic team. In the end, someone is always going to be unhappy, and we are just grateful to get in.
C - Will you be Strava Segment hunting at TOC?
J - I have had a reputation in the past of starting climbs at the back, and then riding my way to the front. I'm working on that. It's great for smashing Strava segments, not so great for winning mountain top finishes. C - When you are dropping guys on the long climbs in the major races, do you ever remember that time you rode me off your wheel on that climb out of Sperryville?
J - That is still the highlight of my career. C - Isn’t California the best place on Earth?
J - Cali is nice, but nothing compares to cruising my home roads in VA! C – Whatever! I agree with everything Joe has said here, except the suggestion that Virginia is better than California.
Anyway, GOOD LUCK to Joe and LIVESTRONG at the Tour of California! On another note, Ted Burns from Nor Cal Cycling News has invited me to do some contributions there! Oh yeah! Uh haw! Alright!
More about author and team member CHUCK HUTCHESON. The baby named Chuck was born in Seattle on a dark, cloudy, and rainy day. Upon his arrival, the doctor held him up and a burst of light broke through the clouds and shown upon baby Chuck's head. Although the bright light of the sun caused baby Chuck to squint he smiled as he heard an infinite number of angels sing in unison.