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Giro d’Italia 2021 Stage Four: Joe Dombrowski Secures Elusive Win

It has been a long time coming for Joe Dombrowski. The 29-year-old climber from Marshall, Virginia has had a love-hate relationship with the Giro over the years. 

 

Dombrowski introduced himself to the Giro d’Italia back in 2012. The then 21-year-old won the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, also known as the Baby Giro. The race is Italy’s most prestigious amateur stage race. The fact that Dombrowski beat future grand tour winner and two time Giro d’Italia podium finisher Fabio Aru just makes the win even more impressive. 

 

After his exploits in 2012, Dombrowski signed with Team Sky for two years. Given that Sky were the premier stage racing team at the time, this was a very exciting move. However, 2013 and 2014 ended up being relatively quiet for Dombrowski. In 2015, Dombrowski moved back to an American set up by signing with Team Cannondale-Garmin.

 

Dombrowski’s first time riding the senior Giro d’Italia was 2016. Dombrowski came close to winning a stage that year. He displayed some good climbing legs by finishing eighth on stage 15’s uphill time trial. On the mountainous stage 20 he battled for the win from the breakaway, ultimately finishing third behind Rein Taaramäe and Darwin Atapuma.

 

The American rode the Giro in 2017 and 2018 as well, but he did not really come close to victory again until 2019. That year Dombrowski finished 12th overall, picking up two stage top tens in the process. 

 

Relying on his strong climbing ability, Dombrowski has made a habit of challenging for stage wins in the mountains of the Giro’s third week. 

 

This time around, Dombrowski was not waiting for the third week to try his luck.

 

Today’s Stage

 

 

Dombrowski was a part of a 25 rider breakaway that led the peloton by over eight minutes in the final 40 kilometers. 

 

Rein Taaramäe and Christopher Juul-Jensen were out on their own for a large portion of those 40 kilometers. The duo had attacked with Taaramäe’s teammate Quinten Hermans outside of 60 kilometers to go. 

 

Taaramäe and Juul-Jensen had a 1’20” advantage over the second group on the road with 10 kilometers to go. When they hit the final climb of the Colle Passerino, the gap began to steadily tumble down. 

 

With 4.3 km to go, Dombrowski and Alessandro De Marchi had bridged up to the leading pair. Dombrowski continued applying the pressure, opening a gap on everyone else in the next 300 meters.

 

De Marchi did his best to hang tough, but Dombrowski continued to turn the screw. The American held his advantage from the top of the final climb all the way to the finish line. In the end, Dombrowski beat De Marchi for the stage win by 13 seconds. 

 

Dombrowski took the stage win and moved into the lead of the mountain classification. De Marchi also benefited tremendously from the day out. The Italian moved into the maglia rosa, realizing a dream in the process.

 

GC Action

 

 

The significant time gap to the breakaway meant that there was a major shake up on the general classification. In the end, the maglia rosa switched hands from one Italian to another. Filippo Ganna relinquished his lead, with De Marchi earning his first leader’s jersey in his 14th grand tour.

 

The big GC favorites also used the final climb to test their legs. The five strongest performers on the day were Egan Bernal, Giulio Ciccone, Aleksandr Vlasov, Mikel Landa and Hugh Carthy, who came home together 1’37” down on Dombrowski.

 

The next GC group containing the likes of Remco Evenepoel and Simon Yates hit the line 11 seconds later.

 

The day’s biggest loser among the high profile GC riders was João Almeida. The 22-year-old finished 5’58” down on Dombrowski, dropping from fourth place to 42nd in the process. If Evenepoel was not already Deceuninck’s preferred GC option, he certainly is now. 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The weather and the punchy climbs provided a perfect setting for the action on today’s stage. 

 

This sort of stage where a battle for the stage and the battle for the general classification unfold at the same time are often the very best that a grand tour has to offer. The storylines were extremely compelling, and the racing was high quality. 

 

The fact that Joe Dombrowski broke through and finally got his Giro d’Italia stage win was just the cherry on top.

 

The Giro resumes tomorrow with another opportunity for the pure sprinters. We will see GC action once again on Thursday’s stage 6, which finishes with the category two San Giacomo climb.

 

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