Last month we gave you, the fans, the opportunity to cast your vote for the 2010 Fan Choice Awards. We are happy to announce that Slovenian rider Jani Brajkovic's Criterium Dauphine Overall victory was voted the Most Impressive Victory in 2010. We checked in with both Johan and Jani to get their thoughts on this honor.
Johan Bruyneel on 2010 Fan Choice Awards:
Down here in Zambia. Been quite a trip and adventure so far. I've been involved with World Bicycle Relief for almost three years now and to see first-hand the work World Bicycle Relief is doing and the impact they are having on Zambians is simply amazing. Hopefully you've had a chance to view my experiences on the special Versus World Bicycle Relief webpage.
I was sent the results of the 2010 Fan Choice Awards. Before I share my thoughts, I'll say that I was a bit skeptical when the marketing staff approached me about these fan choice awards. From my perspective, individual success is the reflection of the team. Simply put - individuals are only as good as the strength of the team. And while there is one rider that stands on the top step, he knows that he couldn't be there without his team. But I also know these awards are fun for you fans and that many other team sports also recognize individuals. So as long as we don't forget the value of the team, then I'm ok with having some fun.
Johan Bruyneel on Jani Brajkovic:
Normally you would have expected Tour victories to win this award, but the votes show Jani's victory over Alberto at the Dauphine really turned some heads. Not many riders these days beat Alberto head to head in a stage race, but Jani rose to the challenge and raced fearlessly. We've known for some years that Jani is a great talent, but with the Dauphine victory and this year's Tour selection, I consider this is his break-out year. With that comes new goals for Jani and I think he's ready for a bigger role at the 2011 Tour. Jani has worked very hard over the years and I'm very happy to see the progress he's made, especially the last two years. I think the best is yet to come for JB Jr!
Jani Brajkovic :
With the Dauphine victory & first Tour de France selection, Johan has said that this was your break-out year.
What do you attribute to this success?
I've made some small training changes, but nothing really too big. I think I've been resting more. In years past, I would train all the time and do very long training rides when it was probably better for me to take it a bit easier. So I think the resting and lighter training have allowed me to come to the races and not be as tired. I also think that after California, I really set the Dauphine as my goal. Before the Dauphine, it was 50/50 on whether I would make the Tour team, maybe even less. There are so many great riders on this team that I know you have to really really really earn it. So I just said to myself that I'm going to do the best Dauphine possible and then we'll see what happens. When I won the race, I was confident that I would be on the start line in Holland.
You've been a teammate of Alberto Contador for three years and then you beat him in the Tour de France
tune-up race. Explain what this was like for you? Did being his teammate for three years give you an extra edge?
Well Alberto is the best so it was an unbelievable feeling to win against him. It's hard to put into words because I really respect Alberto. When I had the leader's jersey, I was pretty confident I could keep it. I had a very good condition and the guys on the team were super strong so it made my job so much easier. Getting to your question - Yes, I think it helped that I raced with Alberto for three years. I knew I had to ride the way I know and like, but it was also good to know Alberto's riding style, how he moves on the bike and some signs that he may show. I've learned a lot from riding with him, so it's good information to have now that we aren't on the same team.
What was it like to ride the Tour de France for the first time in your career? And then to stand on the podium in Paris?
Huge! You don't really know how huge it is until you ride it. It's just amazing. There's no race in the world that can match the Tour. Everything is bigger - media, crowds. And plus every rider is giving more than 100% everyday so it's brutally hard. But it was great and I'm glad that I had the chance to ride it with Lance. I think that made it extra special and probably even bigger since there was extra media attention. And it was great to stand on the podium in Paris with the rest of the team. I won't forget that day!
What are your goals for 2011?
I don't know my program yet. I'll have a better idea at the training camp. I'd like to have some good results in the beginning of the year, then maybe rest for a bit and then have a really strong June & July. Paris-Nice, Dauphine and Tour are probably the three races that are keys, and of course the Tour will be my main goal.
How's Miha? Any off-season plans?
Oh man, Miha is just great. Really big. So much fun. Just gets better everyday!
Well I'm going to take another week real easy. Then I'll start focusing on my fitness. Maybe running, some cyclocross, going to the gym. Then in December we'll have the training camp with the team and then when that's over I'll start training more seriously.
You won this award thanks to the fans. Any message to share with them?
Oh yea! The fans have been great and have really supported me and the team. And it's really nice because there are so many fans from outside of Slovenia who have been really nice and cheered for me too. So thank you. And they should also know that I'm going to work hard to not disappoint them in 2011.
Other 2010 Fan Choice Award Winners:
Most Impressive Season by a First Year ProTour Rider: Tiago Machado