By Kirsten Robbins in Atlanta, Georgia
It's no surprise that Discovery Channel's 23 year-old Slovenian prodigy Janez Brajkovic won the best young rider's jersey for the second year in a row at the Tour de Georgia, after surprising the pro peloton by claiming the yellow jersey. His win marked his first stage race victory as a professional rider for the Discovery Channel team.
Brajkovic took over the leader's jersey during stage three's 13-man break away, that gained an unconventional 29 minutes over the peloton. The gap forced his teammates and general classification favourites, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson into a domestique role that he regarded as an incredible feeling. "For me personally, this is a great success in my career so far and I am extremely happy," Brajkovic said. "I wasn't even planning to be here, so it is an amazing victory. To win this race by myself it would have been impossible. But with the team we had here they were amazing and did a lot of work in the last few days. I have to say thank you to them for helping me."
The Tour de Georgia was on the priority of races to win for Leipheimer and Danielson, because it is showcased on their native soil. However, riding for an American sponsor meant that the win was important for all of Discovery Channel's riders. Brajkovic admitted that while he is not American, winning this in front of his American sponsors was sweet enough. "For our team it's a great victory being a race in America racing for an American team, it is like winning a Spanish race for a Spanish team," he said.
The future of the Tour de France is waiting for a talent like Brajkovic to gain a little more experience to become a seasoned rider ready for such a victory. Brajkovic admitted that he does not anticipate being victorious in the Tour de France just yet, but that he is destined to go down that path given a few more years. "Obviously it is my first stage race win and hopefully not the last one," Brajkovic said. "Yes, it's going to be a long way for me to win a race like a Grand Tour but I have to be optimistic.
"I know it's not going to be possible with three, four or even five years but I am confident that I can do a good Grand Tour and I will give one hundred percent to achieve that," he added. "I can't say that I will do it but I would like to win the Tour de France one day. I know that there are two hundred other riders who also want to win the Tour so I am not alone training and I understand that there are some riders who are more talented than I am. With this team, with Johan and with the guys I think I have the best chances to achieve something like that in the future."