Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Janez Brajkovic has long been known as an amazing young talent in the world of cycling. Winner of the junior world time trial championship in Verona back in 2004 and the overall title at the Tour of Georgia in 2006, Brajkovic has made the most of the opportunities he has been given so far as a pro.
The 2009 season will see Brajkovic take a strong support role for the many team leaders on Astana, and the Slovenian will look to increase his knowledge as a cyclist and a leader. The return of Lance Armstrong will surely help Brajkovic develop, and the 25 year old was virtually attached to Armstrong's hip at their recent triaining camp in Tenerife, Spain.
Brajkovic is known as one of the more friendly professional cyclists, and prides himself on his professionalism. My personal story regarding Brajkovic took place at the 2008 Tour of California. I had tried unsuccessfully to interview Brajkovic's teammate Vladimir Gusev. The Russian gave me one word monotone answers to my questions, and then rode away before I had a chance to ask all that I had planned.
Brajkovic had been watching in the background, and approached me as Gusev was riding away. He had harsh words for his teammate, saying "That was completely unprofessional. You were only trying to ask him a few questions. I'll give you an interview if you'd like." I was blown away by how accommodating and honest the youngster was. He spoke openly about riding completely for his teammate Levi Leipheimer, and took a few extra moments to pose for pictures with my family and I. Right then, Janez Brajkovic became one of my favorite cyclists.
The future for the stage race specialist looks very bright. He'll use 2009 and probably 2010 to learn as much as he can from the veterans on the Astana squad, and in a few years he should become the undisputed team leader of the Astana team. His time trialing and climbing skills, while already great, will continue to improve, and by the time he is 28 he should be mentioned among the top stage racers.
EuroPeloton would like to thank Mr. Brajkovic for his willingness to be accessable to the media and his fans, and we look forward to seeing an impressive 2009 season unfold for both he and his Astana team.