Slovenia demonstrated that it will be a force to contend with in future world championships after Janez Brajkovic and Grega Bole featured strongly in the finale of Sunday’s 260km Elite men’s road race in Australia.
Rapidly improving sprinter and classics rider Bole was the designated team leader, with Criterium du Dauphiné winner Brajkovic also aggressive despite being ill before the race.
"Two days before the time trial I had a fever and I felt really bad – I did the time trial just because I wanted to race," Brajkovic told Cyclingnews.
"After that my condition wasn't getting worse - it was the same each day. I was still feeling weak but I said, 'I've travelled so far for this race, I have to do it'.
"They were saying it [the course] was going to be easy, a sprinter's course, but it was hard. It was fast all day and with those hills it was really hard. Especially for me - I'm a really light rider and I hate these short, punchy climbs...”
"I had nothing to lose so I gave my best and in the finale I felt surprisingly good. We were in the front so the whole team was super today and I'm quite happy."
Hopes for the future
It was the culmination of the work done by a powerful team that included Simon Spilak and Gorazd Stangelj. The team wasn't considered a contender heading into the championships but did enough to warrant that tag in future world titles.
"We have a really strong team and we get along quite well... we raced pretty - everything was perfect. With Grega, I think in the coming years we can get a medal for sure," said Brajkovic.
Like Brajkovic, Bole has enjoyed a stellar season and further enhanced his reputation as a star whose time has come to feature in the year's biggest races such as the Criterium du Dauphiné, where he won stage one.
While he placed 11th at the world championships, he says he's pleased with his season. But hopes for even more in 2011.
"I've had a good year but I had a big crash on the second stage of Paris-Nice I couldn't train for three months," explained Bole. "Then I did a lot of racing: the Tour de France, the Vuelta, and I had good results. This year has been the best of my career."
"We have Alessandro Petacchi and a lot of good riders in the Lampre team in 2011 but I've git some good results this year and I hope next year I can be a leader in some big races such as the Classics."