Slovenian holds off Pinot, falls short of catching Rolland
Pictures of Janez BrajkoviÄ (Astana) lying on the ground, visibly in pain, caused grave concern from his Astana team during stage 18 of the Tour. The Slovenian rider who was sitting in 9th place overall didn’t look well as his teammates rallied around him falling his crash.
BrajkoviÄ, despite the severity of his fall, got going again and rejoined the peloton to finish with the main contenders. He lost four seconds to the stage winner Mark Cavendish (Sky) but his other GC competitors rode across the line in the same time as BrajkoviÄ.
With only two stages to go and the chance to move up a spot – to eighth – in the general classification, BrajkoviÄ would hold nothing back in the following day’s time trial. He came agonizingly close to overhauling Pierre Rolland (Europcar) but fell short. He did maintain his margin to 22-year-old Tour sensation Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat) who remained in 10th-place at the end of the stage 19 time trial.
“As always, Jani gave 100 percent in the time trial. Today he was racing to defend his position in the classification, particularly because of the terrible crash yesterday which left him battered and bruised, with some lacerations on his back and right arm. It is such a shame that we were prevented from climbing to eighth place by only seven seconds,” said team manager Giuseppe Martinelli.
“This result is particularly praiseworthy because the team has also attempted to win stages and then, as the Tour went on, tried to help Kessiakoff win the King of the Mountains competition,” said Martinelli.