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"Realistically, it will be very hard to even get on the podium. Top 5 would be a pretty big achievement for us. I think there are so many teams that will go fast so I don't think we have big chances," Brajkovic tells CyclingQu...


Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson




21.09.2013 @ 18:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard, Florence

Janez Brajkovic was part of the Astana team that recently won the team time trial at the Vuelta a Espana and will be lining up at tomorrow's battle for the Worlds title in the collective discipline. However, a flat course makes it a completely different race than the one in Spain and the Slovenian rules out a repeat of the Spanish performance.


Astana got their Vuelta a Espana off to a flying start when the Kazakh team to a convincing win in the stage 1 team time trial. Janez Brajkovic was the first rider to cross the line and got the chance to wear the red jersey and like many of his fellow Vuelta riders, the Slovenian will be on the start line in tomorrow's world championships.


Despite the Vuelta win and a 2rd place in the Giro TTT, Brajkovic doesn't expect his team to produce a similar result in tomorrow's race. The lumpy technical courses in Spain and Italy favoured the teams many versatile riders but the Florence course is of a completely different nature. Being mostly held on straight flat roads, the race is one for the powerful specialists. Without fellow Astana riders Tanel Kangert, Jakob Fuglsang, Andriy Grivko, Dmitriy Gruzdev and Alessandro Vanotti not falling into the category of true powerhouses, Brajkovic expects his team to finish a little further down in the rankings.


"It's a different course [compared to the Vuelta]," he told at the end of Saturday's recon ride. "And there are teams that have prepared for this course for the past week. We have a really strong team but I think it doesn't really suit us. It's pretty much flat, not very technical, maybe a few sketchy corners in the end but it's just for strong, strong time trialists. Realistically, it will be very hard to even get on the podium. Top 5 would be a pretty big achievement for us. I think there are so many teams that will go fast so I don't think we have big chances."


Brajkovic will also ride the time trial and the road race in which he will be joined by Grega Bole, Borut Bozic, Kristijan Koren, Matej Mugerli and Jan Polanc. With Simon Spilak having recently forfeited his participation, Brajkovic seems to be the evident captain on the very hilly course but the Astana rider hasn't given the race too much consideration yet.


"Actually, I haven't ridden it [the course] yet," he said. "It will be super hard. It depends on how the race goes. We haven't really made any kind of strategy yet. I think we'll see how the race goes and see who is the best and then decide what to do. There are so many other riders and teams that are going to make the race, not us. We'll just try to follow."


When Brajkovic started the Vuelta, he still hadn't signed a contract for next season but during the race he finalized his negotiations with Astana and signed a one-year extension. His 2013 season has mostly been disappointing and apart from a 9th place in the Tour de Suisse time trial, he hasn't finished in the top 10 all season. That's a meagre outcome for a rider who has previously won the Dauphiné and finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France and so he doesn't have too lofty ambitions for next season.


I haven't really made any big plans for next season," he said. "I am going try to get results in one-week races and then there's Vincenzo [Nibali] wanting to win the Tour. Hopefully, I'll be there to help him. Other than that we'll see how it goes."


With Nibali being the Tour de France captain, there may be room for a rider like Brajkovic to lead the team in the Giro and Vuelta. However, nothing has been decided yet.


"For now I would like to have a super start to the season," he said. "There will be no great pressure like in the last two years. Other than that, I don't know, maybe the Giro, maybe the Vuelta. We'll see." 



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