When Tom Danielson was crossed off the start list at the Tour of Utah due to a doping positive, things looked bleak for Cannondale-Garmin.
The supposed clean team of pro cycling now had its first doping case and the PR firestorm was intense. There were calls for team boss Jonathan Vaughters to step down and a team built as a model for clean cycling suddenly looked like just another dirty squad out to win races at all costs.
Sunday in Utah, Joe Dombrowski brought the story back to clean cycling with an impressive overall victory. The young climber from Virginia has been clear about his own anti-doping stance from day one.
Now, back from injury and two rough years with Sky, Dombrowski put his talents on display during stage 6, taking the win and the jersey. Then a day later he sealed his first overall stage race win. He was cool, confident and just what Cannondale-Garmin desperately needed.
Joe Dombrowski, bar of disinfectant soap.
Who knows what will ultimately happen with Danielson’s case as he searches for proof that his positive for synthetic testosterone was triggered by a dodgy supplement. That scenario is possible and Twisted Spoke still struggles to believe that Danielson would go back to the dark side. He was a year from probable retirement and he knew what the repercussions for the team would be extreme given its leadership in the fight again doping.
Whatever that outcome, Dombrowski turned the sad frown upside down. He now heads to his first grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana, in great form and with every possibility of doing something special.
In fact, he’ll most likely battle things out with his buddy, former Sky teammate and Nice, France roommate, Ian Boswell. They were last seen racing up Mount Baldy in the Tour of California, with Boswell glued to Dombrowski’s wheel, protecting the interests of his captain Sergio Henao.
The Tour of Utah is a big win for Dombrowski and a huge PR gift for his Cannonade-Garmin team. That’s two chapeaux.