We recently caught up with the newly retired Ivan Dominguez. Ivan raced professionally for teams such as Saturn Professional Cycling Team, Colavita Olive Oil pb Bolla Wines, Health Net pb Maxxis, Toyota-United, Fuji-Servetto, Rock Racing and most recently Jamis-Sutter Home before retiring at the end of the 2010 season. Nicknamed the “Cuban Missile”, Ivan went on to win some of the biggest races with his fast sprint, including stage wins at the Tour de Georgia, Tour of Missouri and Tour of California.
SoCalCycling.com: How did the nickname “The Cuban Missile” come about and who gave you this nickname?
Ivan Dominguez: I got it from a guy in Florida that I was doing an interview for him and he was the first person to call me like that. I don’t remember why, but I think that we were talking about Cuba and about how fast I was in the sprint, so he came up with that nickname.
SoCalCycling.com: You defected from Cuba in 1998, was that a hard or scary experience to make and are you glad that you made the decision today?
Ivan Dominguez: It was very hard and is still that way. You have to put your future in one hand and your family and friends in the other, so I went for my future, that way I can help my family and friends from here. I’m very, very glad that I made that decision and also at the right time too.
SoCalCycling.com: After a successful cycling career winning some very big races, you made the decision to retire from cycling at the end of the 2010 season, can you tell us how and why you made this decision?
Ivan Dominguez: Yes, I was tired of training and my motivation was very, very low. You know that if you don’t train right, there is no way you will win races. I also got tired of dealing with team contracts and they don’t want to pay you the right money or they are not interested in you at all. I’m very good with the fans, I get along with 99% of the riders in the peloton and I don’t have any problems with team directors so I don’t understand why teams were not interested. Maybe because I was not winning races like I use to. But me not winning races like I use to, means that I’m still better than a lot of riders out there. If I win a lot of races then I don’t get a contract, if I don’t win races then I don’t get a contract and if I’m in between, then there are too many riders like that. So, that is why I stopped racing.
SoCalCycling.com: How is retirement treating you so far and what have you been up to?
Ivan Dominguez: So far, sooooooo good. I love it! I don’t have to think about training or racing or flying to a race and spend weeks out of the house or in places that you don’t have any idea how the family is where I will be staying for two weeks. So, yes I love to be at home, a lot. I’ve been home not doing much, just spending time with my wife and our little baby boy Maximiliano. We call him Maxi. They love when I’m at home too.
SoCalCycling.com: Have you been riding at all for fun?
Ivan Dominguez: Not at all. I don’t want to see a bike for the next few months. I get people asking me to go riding and do some small races, but I don’t feel like doing it yet. I want to take my time off. I want to get on my bike when I feel like I want too, not when people want me too. Soooooo, to all my friends, don’t rush me : )
SoCalCycling.com: When we spoke earlier at Interbike, you mentioned that you were lacking some motivation to continue on as pro cyclist. How important is it to be completely motivated to compete at the Pro level and can you pinpoint where the lack of motivation to continue racing may have come from and your decision to retire.
Ivan Dominguez: Well that was few month back. The people that came to talk to me about directing a team or maybe racing never call back, they ask me to send them an email and call them and when I did that they never call or email me back. So I ask myself, why do they waste my time, I don’t want to waste your time or someone’s time, if I don’t need you then I will tell you. But it looks like at Interbike 90% of the people are like that. They promise, promise for one week and after the Show is over, there is no way you can get hold of these people. Oh well, what can we do? It’s life. Motivation is one of the big keys in any sport, well in life in general. If you don’t have it, then don’t do it because you will fail for sure.
SoCalCycling.com: What did you like most about racing professionally and do you have a favorite moment?
Ivan Dominguez: Winning is what I like the most or helping my teammates to win. I like that a lot. Favorite moment?? 2007 Tour of Cali the last day, was a great day and a great victory for my team, for me and my family and friends.
SoCalCycling.com: What will you miss about racing professionally?
Ivan Dominguez: hahahahaha well I can say………………………I’m thinking ok………………..wait I almost got it………………..wait wait………………….. yeap I got it, going over the big hills in the last group and trying to make the time………………NOT REALLY : )
SoCalCycling.com: How was your experience on Rock Racing? Do you have any good stories you can share?
Ivan Dominguez: Was nice, I didn’t have any problems out there. I was only there for 6 months. I love the RR guys and I miss them a lot too. Too bad that the Team is not around any more. I have a lot of good stories, but if I share I might be dead by tomorrow (hehehehehe joke). I have so many good stories, I had a good time with those boys.
SoCalCycling.com: Having won so many races, do you have a favorite win and why?
Ivan Dominguez: I just won few but the ones that I won, I made sure that every one was watching hehehehe. For me the most important one was at 2007 Tour of Cali on the last day. Sometimes, I think about how did I do it. That win give me all that I needed to just go strong for the rest of the 2007 season.
SoCalCycling.com: What tips would you give to Cat 1 riders that have aspirations to make the jump to turn pro and earn a contract on a professional team?
Ivan Dominguez: Train hard and smart, rest well, eat well and try to race very, very smart too and try to keep your motivation way up.
SoCalCycling.com: Can we expect to see you do some racing or training rides in SoCal in the future?
Ivan Dominguez: Training rides – YES. Racing – NOT REALLY. Maybe watching the race, but not racing, but who knows. I might change that when I start riding my bike more. We’ll see.
SoCalCycling.com: What does the future hold for Ivan, do you want to work in the sport in some capacity (industry, Team Director, coach etc.)?
Ivan Dominguez: Well, I was trying to do something like that. But like I said earlier, the people never called me back, so that means no for now. I have a few other things in mind that I’m trying to put together with my wife and a friend and I will let you know in few month from now.
SoCalCycling.com: Thanks Ivan. Good luck in the next phase of your life and we hope to see you out on some of SoCal’s training rides soon!
Interview by Christy Nicholson, SoCalCycling.com