After a disappointing year, Janez Brajkovic (Astana) is hoping to resurrect his season with the realisation that he is out of contract at the end of 2013.
Brajkovic’s year has been plagued by illness, bad luck and crashes, with the Slovenian having crashed out of the Tour de France in July. However with the Vuelta a Espana on his race schedule, Brajkovic has the chance to rescue both his year and improve his chances of finding a contract for next season.
"This year there’s always been something, either injury, sickness or bad luck. Even before Burgos I was motivated and in good shape but then the day before I was supposed to leave for the race I was sick, I had a fever and couldn’t move. I honestly didn’t want to tell the team because they would have taken me out so I took some antibiotics and even though the race wasn’t that good for me I got through it and I’m feeling really good now. Hopefully I’ll stay healthy and I’ll be okay,” he told Cyclingnews.
The Vuelta, a race in which Brajkovic has shown glimpses of his talent before, represents a major target for the rider.
“I would like to show myself and show everyone that I’m still a good rider, maybe with a stage win and possibly even a GC position. We’ll see in the first few stages where I am but I’m very optimistic.”
Astana will line up at the Vuelta with Giro champion and 2010 Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali as their prime leader.
“He’s such a good rider so even if he’s not in top condition he’ll do a top five,” Brajkovic told Cyclingnews.
“I don’t think he wants that pressure but still I think he might not be the best in the first week but by the third week he’ll be there fighting with the best.”
Whatever Nibali’s form, Brajkovic is keen to make an impression, whether through working for his leader or forging a successful path for himself. Last year the former RadioShack rider cracked the top ten in the Tour de France but his poor 2013, coupled with an inflated transfer market, means that he is currently without a contract for next year.
“It’s been a really bad season for me and unfortunately I’m out of contract at the end of this year so it’s even worse. A good result is good for morale and the future for me. I think I can still ride well so if everything goes well I’ll be able to have some good results this year.”
“Honestly, I have no contract right now but we’re talking to some teams, but not so many. We’ll see but it’s the end of the season and most of the teams are already full so it’s getting harder.”
Staying at Astana is not a situation Brajkovic would rule out, having spent the last two seasons with the team.
“It’s not that I don’t want to stay at Astana and we’ll see how it goes. It’s not a bad team and I like it. I get along with all the guys, especially with the Italian guys. If I have the option of staying, sure why not, it’s not a bad team at all.”