By Shane Stokes in La Covatilla
Just under two years ago Janez Brajkovic secured a contract with the Discovery Channel team when he won the under 23 world time trial title at Lake Garda, near Verona. He's continued to build form and experience since, finishing an excellent second on the first mountain stage of the Vuelta.
Brajkovic went clear with Danilo Di Luca near the summit of the Estación de Esquí La Covatilla, the day's finish, and because of his role in protecting team leader Tom Danielson, declined to work with the Italian. He attacked closer to the line but was unable to shake off the 2005 ProTour winner, instead finishing as a satisfied – and surprised – runner up.
"I was actually very surprised as for the first couple of days I didn't feel good," he told Cyclingnews at the top of the climb. "But yesterday my legs were starting to come around. In the first few climbs today I didn't want to push too much, but rather save as much energy as possible. The plan was to help Tom [Danielson] on the final climb. When Di Luca attacked I tried to follow…in the beginning there was a little gap which I managed to close and then I just followed the wheel.
"Obviously Tom is our leader here," the talented Slovenian continued. "That is my first priority - I don't think I am going to be capable of maintaining this kind of shape for the whole race."