The Bahrain-Merida team has confirmed the signing of Janez Brajkovic, with the Slovenian expected to part of Vincenzo Nibali's squad as he targets the Giro d'Italia in 2017. Bahrain-Merida now has just one spot to fill on its 2017 roster.
"This is a unique opportunity for me – to ride again in the highest class. I am determined to prove that I still belong in the professional cycling and I'm very motivated and also optimistic about the next season. My priority now is to give 100 per cent to the team, help Nibali and other teammates and also prove to myself that I am still capable of good results," Brajkovic said in the official announcement from Bahrain-Merida.
The 32-year-old Brajkovic turned professional in 2005 and came through the professional ranks under Johan Bruyneel at Discovery and later rode as part of Astana and RadioShack. He spent another three years at Astana between 2012 and 2014, finishing ninth in the 2012 Tour de France.
In 2006 he held yellow jersey at Vuelta a Espana for two days and won the Tour de Georgia in 2007. In 2008 he was second at Il Lombardia and won the Criterium du Dauphine in 2009. He moved to the UnitedHealthcare team in 2015, riding consistently well in shorter stage races but without securing any victories.
"He came to our first training camp and spoke with the team and the management. He gave us a good impression. He's a classy rider who has done well in certain races but at the same time he can be a bit fragile," Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews.
Copeland is now focusing on filling the final spot in its 27-rider roster.
"We have the Classics, and we've not got a great team there. We'd like to give Heinrich Haussler some support but at the same time our main rider is Nibali and we'd like to give him support in the Grand Tours," Copeland explained. "We're keeping things open and we're talking to about five riders. It's not an easy decision."