It’s round four of #FairlyGroupFriday. The fourth part of our four-part Fan Q&A series comes 19 stages into the Giro d’Italia. When we told Joe Dombrowski we needed to speak with him for his #FairlyGroupFriday interview, he asked: “Is it Friday?”, which sums up the collective state at mind at this point in a Grand Tour. As usual, all questions below come from fan submissions via Twitter and Facebook, and there were some real gems in this group.
1. What languages do you speak? Understand?
Pierre Rolland: French, English – I understand a lot and speak so-so, Italian – I understand a little bit now with a lot of Italian teammates but I don’t speak Italian
Alex Howes: Well, English. I speak quite a bit of Spanish. I understand Spanish and French. I don’t understand Italian.
Hugh Carthy: English and Spanish; I can understand a little bit of Italian
Joe Dombrowski: I speak American English and French. I can understand some Italian, enough to get by, enough to be dangerous. I can order a few cappuccini.
Mike Woods: I speak English and French. I can kind of understand Italian and Spanish now.
2. How are you going to spend next Monday (first day post-Giro)?
Rolland: Spend a lot of time with my family – my daughter and my wife. Maybe at the end of the day, some friends and other family will come over in the evening to celebrate this good Giro.
Howes: Packing up my whole house and getting ready to go back to the States.
Carthy: Hopefully it’s a day without a plan. I’ll get out of bed and see how it goes.
Dombrowski: With a hangover – no, no, no. Kidding. I have Suisse coming up. I have to be focused. I think my family and girlfriend will be in Milan, and we will drive back home to Nice on Monday.
Woods: Absolutely nothing. Lying around and doing nothing. OH! And catching up on emails.
3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Rolland: Always a pro cycling rider. I wanted to do that always. I never thought of one other job for me.
Howes: I wanted to be a pro cyclist, but I don’t think I wanted to do stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia.
Carthy: What I’m doing now.
Dombrowski: It depends on what phase in my childhood. When I was 12, I wanted to do what my parents do and design rockets. (Editor’s note: His parents are actual real-life rocket scientists.)
Woods: Hockey player
4. How old were you when you did your first bike race? Did you win?
Rolland: 14 or 15; my first win was when I was 15.
Howes: Five or six. I got beat by a girl.
Carthy: Seven. It was on a mountain bike. Everyone else was on a road bike. I did not win.
Dombrowski: 15; it was a mountain bike race. I was second.
Woods: 24; the OBC Grand Prix. I came fourth.
5. What’s your best travel tip for making long flights more tolerable?
Rolland: Watch lots of movie and sleep a lot.
Howes: Use earplugs.
Carthy: Bring a good book. (Bonus response: His favorite book is Catcher in the Rye.)
Dombrowski: Book an aisle seat.
Woods: Invest in good headphones.
6. If you could bring back any retired pro to be a part of your Giro squad, who would you choose and why?
Rolland: Ivan Basso; I started cycling when he was on the top level, and I liked his style on the bike.
Howes: Andy Hampsten; he looks great in pink.
Carthy: Someone who wins a lot.
Dombrowski: Mario Cipollini; just for some panache
Woods: Vinokourov; you wouldn’t need anyone else
7. What mental strategies do you use to get through the toughest bits of a race?
Rolland: My motivation is always high. Sometimes I’m really tired in the morning, but when I go on my bike, the tired dial switches off. The race starts or I start training, and my body wakes up. I don’t need more than that.
Howes: I turn off the head.
Carthy: I don’t think about going home or packing it in. When you’re in a bad moment, do not think about climbing off. Have faith that it will calm down or come back together or that you’ll eventually make it to the finish.
Dombrowski: Not thinking; the hard part of a race is like sleeping. You can’t try too hard to sleep because then it doesn’t work, and also, if your mind is racing and you have all these things going through your head, it also doesn’t work. You need to be calm, composed and empty.
Woods: I try to take myself out of my body and imagine I’m watching from TV. When you’re watching from TV, you don’t understand why guys are getting dropped.