Brajkovic gets one year contract extension with Astana, ambitious about Tour de Suisse and other races
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Brajkovic gets one year contract extension with Astana, ambitious about Tour de Suisse and other races

by VeloNation Press at 6:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Will back Nibali in 2014 Tour de France but wants to lead team in shorter stage races

Janez BrajkovicAfter weeks of uncertainty about his 2014 destination, Janez Brajkovic has finalised an agreement to remain part of his Astana Pro Team for another season.

The Slovenian rider competed with the team in 2008 and 2009 and returned there last year. He crashed out of this year’s Tour de France, where he was due to ride support for Jakob Fuglsang, but has worked well in other race for the team, including in Tirreno Adriatico and the Vuelta for Vincenzo Nibali.

He led the Vuelta a España after Astana won the opening team time trial, and since then has dedicated his efforts to helping the Italian.

He said that he is keen to keep that partnership going next year. “The Tour de France with Vincenzo is what I most want to do next season, and to help him win will be my main goal for the season,” he said, responding to the new contract.

Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov values the 29 year old, and sees him as a good all round rider. “Jani is a serious time trialist and a very strong rider in the mountains, and we are very happy to keep him with us at Astana Pro Team for another season,” he said. “Next year our ambitions will expand to include an attempt at the top step of the Tour de France, and with Jani we know we have a guy who can help us go there.”

Nibali concentrated on the Giro/Vuelta double this year, avoiding the Tour, but has said that the French event will be his main focus next season. He finished third overall there in 2012 and is seen by some as a rider who could take the final yellow jersey to Paris.

Brajkovic is willing to give up his own chances to help the team leaders, but also wants to grab any opportunities given to him. “The racing calendar depends very much on what Nibali and the team wants to do to be ready, but I would also like to focus on my own results at one-week stage races like the Tour de Suisse, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Dauphine,” he said, making clear that he retains his own sense of ambition.

“I would also like very much to lead the team in America at the Tour of California, the Tour of Utah and the one week race in Colorado, and I hope we can get invited to the United States next season.”

Brajkovic has ridden hard to help Nibali in the Vuelta. The Italian is currently second overall, having worn the red jersey until being pipped yesterday by Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard). The American seems to have momentum on his side, but the three second time gap makes it possible that Nibali could still win the race.

The GC will be decided on today’s tough final climb of the Angliru, where the contenders will slug it out prior to tomorrow’s largely processional stage to Madrid.

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