Perhaps no other sport requires a bigger life shake-up than professional cycling — especially if you weren’t born in Western Europe.
Take Joe Dombrowski. Two years ago, he was an engineering student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, which is about 45 miles from his hometown of Marshal, Virginia. As of January, Dombrowski’s a member of Team Sky Pro Cycling and lives by himself in a two-bedroom apartment near the port in Nice, France (which is about 4,200 miles from Marshal). He doesn’t own a car, barely speaks the native tongue, and only knows a handful of people in the area.
To pass the time, Dombrowski does what all pro cyclists do when they are not racing: He trains, and trains, and trains some more.
“I’m not complaining, but it’s definitely not easy,” says the 21-year-old who looks like he’s going on 16. “It’s a big adjustment to go from being around friends and family to living in a foreign country where everything is so unfamiliar. But it’s a challenge I’m excited to be taking on. I love riding and I love racing, and this is what you have to do if you want to succeed at the top level.”
Aiding Dombrowski in this journey is a Pinarello Dogma 2, the famed Italian bike maker’s flagship road racing machine. RoadBikeReview caught up with the young climbing specialist at a coffee shop in old town Nice. Here’s a look at his trusted training partner. Check back soon to see more photos and read a full feature from our lengthy and wide-ranging interview.