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A happy Janez Brajkovic (Team RadioShack) after winning the Dauphiné's third stage.
Slovenian enjoying his leadership role at the Dauphiné
Janez Brajkovic faces the biggest test of his career on Saturday as he tries to defend the yellow jersey in the Critérium du Dauphiné on the Col du Glandon and the up to the stage finish at L’Alpe d’Huez. The Slovenian from RadioShack has a lead of 1:41 on Alberto Contador (Astana). The Tour de France winner insists he is not riding the Dauphiné to win it but Brajkovic expects to have to fight for victory.
“Tomorrow is going to be a very hard stage”, Brajkovic predicted.
“There will be a lot of attacks for sure. It’s gonna be hard to control. Yesterday the head wind made it pretty easy for me because Chris (Horner) took a lot of wind and protected me. Today was another story with a lot of attacks on the first climb (Col du Lautaret). We managed to control the race and most of the attacks weren’t dangerous. Sergio (Paulinho) did a great job setting the pace for all the climb (of the Chamrousse). It was a pretty easy for me but not for the team.”
Brajkovic has never climbed the Glandon or L’Alpe d’Huez, the legendary climbs of the Tour de France where his boss Lance Armstrong dominated so often.
“I only know that it’s long and hard”, the Slovenian rider told reporters when asked about L’Alpe d’Huez. “It will be harder than today but it will be the same for everybody.”
Contador gave the green light to teammate and loyal domestique Daniel Navarro to attack on the climb to Chamrousse on Friday. The double Tour de France winner keeps saying that he’s riding the Critérium du Dauphiné as build-up for July. Brajkovic did not want to reveal what he talked to Contador about in front of the TV cameras during the stage to Grenoble but is convinced he will ride aggressively on Saturday.
“Contador will attack for sure,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll manage to stay with him. If I can’t I’ll try to limit the loss. The rider I’m the most worried about is Alberto. When he attacks, if you can’t stay on his wheel, it’s impossible to come back. I’m quite happy that he didn’t attack today.”
“I think this race isn’t his priority but if he’s well, he’ll attack, there’s no doubt about that”, Brajkovic said. “If I was him, I’d do the same.”