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“My primary goal is to start the season strong. If I can ride really well at the start of the season and get a few good results, there are not going to be problems with the contract” 

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson

JANEZ BRAJKOVIC

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
05.01.2014 @ 13:25 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Janez Brajkovic faces a problem that is shared by many in the professional peloton. His main role at Astana is to protect leaders Michele Scarponi at the Giro and potentially Vincenzo Nibali at the Tour. However, he is in the last year of his contract and needs to chase enough WorldTour points to merit his contract being renewed. Many riders in the field even feel the need to defy team orders towards the end of the season in order to score some points.

 

“It’s a mess, it’s just wrong,” Brajkovic told Cyclingnews of the current WorldTour points system. “For a domestique who does his work all the year and sacrifices himself for the leader, at the end of the year, he has no points and he’s not valuable to the team and he risks not getting a contract. I think that’s wrong.”

 

He is due to protect Scarponi at the Giro but there is a possibility for both Brajkovic and Fabio Aru to chase individual success.

 

“My primary goal is to start the season strong. If I can ride really well at the start of the season and get a few good results, there are not going to be problems with the contract,” he said. “But if I don’t start so well and struggle through the first part, it’s not such a pleasant situation. Then you are under pressure, because you have to do your work for the team and you have to get a result for yourself.”

 

The Slovenian plans to line up at the Challenge Mallorca, Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro del Trentino as a build up for the Giro in May. He understandably wants to perform well in the WorldTour races “I’ not doing so many races, but I would like to do well at Tirreno, that’s one of the goals”

 

While Vincenzo Nibali is the undisputed leader at Astana, the team has assembled a formidable roster of stage racing talent, with Brajkovic, Scarponi, Aru, Jakob Fuglsang and Tanel Kangert all vying for opportunities of their own. However, Brajkovic is confident that they can work together.

 

“If you have two really good riders, and one is better than the other, he will go for the result,” he said. “It’s not a case of ‘he’s the leader and you have to do everything for him.’ It’s just whoever goes better is the main guy. I don’t really see any problems here and I don’t have any problems working for others.”

 

Brajkovic has been touted for greatness for a long time but has never recaptured the form that saw him win the 2010 Dauphiné or his 9th place in the 2012 Tour in his first year at Astana.

 

Although Brajkovic admits that he has yet to deliver fully on his considerable potential, at 30 years of age, he believes that time is still on his side. “I think I haven’t shown what I’m capable of yet, so I would like to show that to the cycling world,” he said. “Hopefully it’s going to happen pretty soon, maybe this year.”

 

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