Jani Brajkovic: «I’ll be team leader at the Tour»

    • Filled in News in English 24 Март 2012 в 11:43, author: Аlik
    • Views: 19 841.

    Jani Brajkovic [fan site]'s Blog

    Determined and sure. This is how we can describe Jani Brajkovič before the start of the season. Determined to get revenge for last years' crash that made him abandon the Tour de France. Sure that he can compete with the best in the race of his life, the race he had dreamed of when he was a child. Sure of his abilities. Sure that all he needs is a little luck... He already has strong legs, after all he too has a team that granted him all the support - Astana.

    What does the move from RadioSchack to Astana mean to you?
    New team, new people, new riders. The system is a bit different, but I like the way manager Guiseppe Martinelli works. You can discuss anything with him. When we're working, we're giving it all. The training camp in Calpe - not that I'm praising, but I think it's been my best training camp. We trained very well, and at the same time we got along fine with the other riders. Actually, I enjoyed those two weeks very much.

    How would you compare Discovery Channel, RadioSchack and Astana?
    I'll miss English. At Astana, the language is Italian, which is probably good as I'll learn it. The structure of the team itself isn't that different.

    You've mentioned Martinelli. What's the diference between him and Johan Bruyneel?
    Bruyneel has 9 Tour wins, Martinelli has one. I've been with Bruyneel for seven years and our relationship wasn't on a business level only. We're still in touch and we remained very good friends, I'll miss him, but I decided to go a different way. I yet have to see where it leads.

    Borut Božič and DS Gorazd Štangelj are on the team as well. What does that mean?
    For me and Borut it's one of the best thing to have a DS so close to our homes. You can call him when you need him and he really can help. I've never had that before.

    You were given a special role at the team presentation already. You stood in first row, next to Alexandre Vinokourov and Roman Kreuziger.
    That's a big responsibility, as they really seem to count on me. At the same time, I can be more relaxed, because this way they've proven I'll be team leader in some races. I'll sure have the chance to show what I can do. Now everything depends on me, means I have to prepare myself 100% and show thta I'm able to do it.

    What did they promise you?

    I'll be team leader at the Tour.

    What about Vinokourov?
    We don't know yet how things will go with his injury, we'll see. I hope he'll start the Tour. Even if he won't be 100% prepared, he could help the team a lot and it would be a great honour to race with him.

    Can an experienced cyclist like him teach you something new?
    I've already learned a lot from other guys, but to he is one of the great cyclists of past times. Like Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich... maybe also Beloki. Vinokourov was the only of them who had a different style of racing, he was attacking all the way. I admire him just because of that, and at the same time I doubt that I'll be able to do so one day, even though I think it sometimes pays off to risk and attack when others don't expect it.

    Does that mean you'll surprise us with some unexpected attack this year?
    Maybe. I'd like to try with attacks and breakaways in the races I use for preparation. When you know you're only preparing with a race, that it's just training, you are calmer and you can try things like this.

    But Vinokourov attacked in the most important races as well, like the Tour.
    You need to be really strong to do that. I couldn't do such extremes for ten minutes. I can do one hour in a certain rhythm, but if I tried to accelerate, I couldn't do it. Some guys can do it, and Vino is one of those.

    This year, your first race was cancelled. Do cyclists bother about it?
    It's quite frustrating, especially when you planned everything in December already. I had a plan made up for the most part of the season and in this situation you have two options: you don't race at all, or you find another race. But it's an emergency plan. It's not what it should be. Sadly we couldn't do the Ruta del Sol, and I'd like the Tour of Oman as well, because the date suits me, wind doesn't decide it, plus it's quite hilly. I know the roads there well too, as I've trained over there already.

    Will you count on the Tour again?
    The Tour will be the main goal, but I'd like to achieve something before it already, also to prevent last years' scenario. I'd like to do well in the first part: Paris-Nice, Catalunya and Pais Vasco. Then I'll have two weeks of rest, and start preparing for the Tour after that. I'll compete in California, and maybe in the first three days of the Dauphine as well, until the TT. Then I'd go home and have one week till the start of the Tour de Slovenie.

    So, the Tour de Slovenie is your priority, not the race you won so clearly in 2010?
    Slovenie will be tough as well, but not like the DAuphine. So I'll come to the Tour fresh and rested, and especially in good shape.

    Will you go for the GC in the Tour de Slovenie?

    It won't be the main goal, but I'd like to achieve a good result at home. I'd be happy to win some stage or to be among the top 3.

    You don't have best memories of last season. Many know about your crash at the Tour, fewer people know you suffered from mononucleosis and only learned about it when you had tests with your new team.
    It didn't come to my mind that I could have something like that, even the doctors didn't find out anything. Maybe because I was still racing well. Even now, they can't tell exactly when I had it, but I sure had it last season. That might be a kind of comfort, but I know that five years from now nobody will ask whether I had mononucleosis or not. They'll ask about results. But, it can explain a few things.

    How did you feel?
    It's difficult to find out whether I had mononucleosis in the beginning of the season or in the end of it, or all year long.
    After last years' Paris-Nice I was constantly ill for about a month. Some days I had fever, some days not. I did Catalunya with fever, then I was better for a few days, and when I prepared on Tenerife I had 39°C. But I was training all the time, I didn't know what was wrong.

    Now this is over?
    Of course, for now I'm healthy, so all is super. We'll see how things will go in the races.

    Do you know the course of the Tour de France already?
    I don't know the climbs in France. We'll probably check out the decisive stages. Fact is there'll be a lot of TT, which is a big plus for me, so I' very excited.

    The TT will obviously be very important. It's the first time in your professional career that you changed bikes. Did you change your TT position?
    I changed the position a little bit, so I feel more comfortable now. I'm a little less aerodynamic, but I can push harder, which is more important in longer TTs. The bike itself suits me very well, especially it's very easy to ride, you drive it like a regular bike. I'll probably go to the wind tunnel in April when I'll be in Colorado.

    Your position seemed to be perfect before. What did you change?
    Before, my hands were apart because it suited me and I've always been very fast in this position. Then, I had my hands more and more together and the real feeling was gone. You can't lead the bike that good. I told it Andy Pruitt, the man from Specialized, and he said I should have my hands apart if it suits me. You loose a little on aerodynamics, but you have a lot more power. So I returned to the position that is similar to the one in my victorious Dauphine TT.

    So, little things are very important?
    Every second counts now. The differences are so small that every little thing is very important. But honestly, they're overrating this aerodynamic bikes and all these comparisons of what you loose or win. A bike's aerodynamics is only 10-15% of the total aerodynamics of a cyclist. So, if your bike is 20% more aerodynamic, it doesn't mean you'll be 20% faster.

    What about the road bike? Have you noticed any differences?
    Everyone who changes bikes, praises the one and says it's the best bike of all. I think I hadthe chance to race with two of the best bikes in the world - Trek was tops for me, but when I tried this one, I realized it's much firmer, and I like it more because of that.

    Isn't it annoying?

    No. In general, I like firm bikes. I always had 9 or 10 bars in my Trek, even though they said 8 is best.

    You've had an excellent career so far. You had the golden jersey, won the Criterium du Dauphine Libere, the Tour of Georgia... But the question remains, are you a cyclist for the greatest three-week races?
    I think I am, and if I hadn't crashed at the Tour last year, I could have proven it. But I know there will be doubts until I really prove it. If this year everything goes as it should and I still won't make it, I'll take that I'm not for the three-week races, and I'll rather focus on shorter competitions like the Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice...

    Where does your self esteem come from?
    Let's take the 2009 Giro. I was in good shape at the start, but it wasn't excellent. Probably I could have finished among the top 10, but we had Lance Armstrong on the team and I used up lots of energy. Still, compared to the best I was just as good in the third week of racing. Means my recovery wasn't any worse, even though the doctors made a big mistake before the race begun. One week before the Giro the allergy test revealed I'm allergic on birch and ambrosia. They gave me medications that in a small number of cases have cause retention of water in your body as a side effect. In three weeks of racing, I put on 5 kilograms.

    Another proof of how difficult three-week races are. How do you prepare mentally?
    The psyche is the greatest problem. In the third week, you're tired of everything. If you're not fighting for the top positions, you're not motivated. You suffer just to survive, although everybody is done. But if you were psychologically strong, you could have fought some more. After ten or 12 days everyone is tired, the speeds aren't the same... But no matter what, the guy who will be strongest psychologically will be at the front. At the Tour however, already the first stages are extremely hard, you need to be focused all the time, for four and more hours, and ready for everything. It's a hard thing for your head.

    But the head alone doesn't help if the cyclist doesn't have the right body, and tests in the lab can show whether you're gifted or not. Did you compare data with the results of riders who achieved top results at the Tour?
    I do have the data, but I don't want things seem like I'm bragging.

    You don't need to talk about numbers if you don't want to reveal them.

    Someone in Colorado has tested Indurain, Contador, Beloki, Heras... and he told me if you make 6W/kg, your body is good enough to place among the top 3 at the Tour. The test is a bit different, because he developed his own protocol, one that is more realistic than Conconi. You start the test with 2.5W, then it goes up for 0.5W/kg every ten minutes. It doesn't matter at how many W you finish. What matters more is, how much lactate you have at 6W/kg.

    So, how many W did you make?

    I came to 5.5W/kg and my lactate was lower than those of some Tour winners. Right after that, my lactate rose too fast, but I can improve that with specific trainings. Of course the training is hard, but I'm working on that and we'll see the ooutcome. The test showed also that my muscles can remove the lactate very dast.

    Many gadgets can help one to recover faster. Lance Armstrong once said you're the guy with most of these things. What do you use?
    Practically everyone has compression socks already, as well as the massage stick, I also use the foam roller while stretching. I use space legs, too. They were firsf used by team Garmin, and it's a special kind of socks that you pump with a compressor. They have four spaces and start to compress your legs. It's a kind of compression.

    What about an altitude tent?

    I do have one, but I spent most of the time on Tenerife. I think the real altitude makes a bigger difference than a tent.

    When on Tenerife, you live atop El Teide. Do you ever count how long you need to climb it?
    I don't know the exact time, but I never do the entire ascent all out. We need to remember that it's a difference of 2200 altitude meters, and at this height the lack of oxygen has an effect on you. We say, you only have a meter over there. When it's over, it's over. Even one meter too much, and you're done. You don't recover anymore. You really need to be careful on this altitude. I do 1800 m intensively, then much less, as it would have an effect on me next day, too.

    Obviously, the people on Tenerife know you very well.
    That's true. Last year, I spent more than two months there, and the people do recognise me. Two policemen wanted to take a photo with me, somebody knew everything about me... The people follow cycling and they're very friendly, too.

    Do you have any favourite route when you're home?
    Actually, there's only one. Here, you have so little ascents that you have to go to Baza 20 twice, twice on the Gorjanci, on Gače, and who-knows-what-more, if you want to make 2500 altitude meters. In the past years I'm not home much anyway, but it's been quite annoying before. That's why I often go to Planica.

    So, you're on the road all the time. How do you combine the travelling with your family?
    It's difficult. That's my job and I can't do any other way. Some work eight, ten, even twelve hours a day, and see the child in the morning and in the evening, for a few minutes only. To me, it's similar. November is my month off, then I'm home in Slovenia. That's it. I'm lucky that my family understands and we can work things out.

    Wherever you go, there's chance you'll have an unexpected doping control. How many did you have in the past?
    When they started this biological passport, we all had lots of tests. After my second place in Lombardy, I had random controls every second week. After a while, they obviously got enough data and they saw I don't have any suspicious results, so it all calmed down a little. There are some exceptions anyway. Last year at Paris-Nice I had four morning controls in a row. Back home, I had only one control, and I had none this year so far.

    How did the peloton react to the Contador case?
    Most of the pros were very shocked. I can't say whether it's right or not to punish him, but it's not right that the whole procedure took so long, and he got such a penalty in the end. They could have banned him from racing and decide within two months, this way however he could race and win many races. Now, Scarponi won the Giro. But practically nobody will know about it.

    Fact is you live from cycling. Do you live for cycling, too?
    Yes. Family is first, but still cycling is my way of life. That's what interests me most.

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