Johan Bruyneel has given the first indications about the shape of RadioShack’s line-up for next year’s Tour de France, describing his team as “underdogs” for the yellow jersey, but pointing up a special role for this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné winner Janez Brajkovic.
Interviewed on RadioShack’s official site, the Belgian team boss said he will once again be counting on Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden, stating: “Though getting older they still remain outsiders with a chance.” Bruyneel added that he is looking forward to seeing how the team’s younger riders perform, and particularly Brajkovic, who finished 43rd on his Tour debut this July.
“Jani will start the Tour for the first time with an objective to perform well,” said Bruyneel. “He will have an experienced team around him without having the pressure to be the leader of the team or a Tour favourite. But I will be expecting something from him.”
Bruyneel was full of praise for the 26-year-old Slovene’s Dauphiné success. Brajkovic outclassed the rest of the field including Alberto Contador in the long mid-race time trial, then resisted Contador’s attacks on the climb to Alpe d’Huez to ensure the biggest victory of his pro career. “His victory in the Dauphiné provided confirmation of his talent. He won that hard race against Contador and he can make a
step forward now,” said Bruyneel.
The RadioShack boss may have said he isn’t going to apply too much pressure on Brajkovic, but added that “the top five must be his ambition”.
Bruyneel described the 2011 Tour route as good for RadioShack, who carried off the team prize at this year’s race. “There will be a lot of occasions for breakaways and stage wins, just as Sergio Paulinho did in 2010. We will go to the Tour without a Tour favourite. We will take all opportunities we can get,” he said. He added that he would have preferred a longer team time trial but “better a short one than no TTT for us”.