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Agence France Presse
Janez Brajkovic was told not to get his Tour de France hopes too high Sunday despite securing his biggest ever stage-race win at the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré.
The 26-year-old RadioShack rider dominated the stage-3 time trial and countered two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador numerous times on the stage-6 climb to L’Alpe d’Huez.
Nevertheless, team sports director Alain Gallopin urged caution.
In a normal season professional cyclists have few fitness peaks and need several weeks of rest before embarking on another hard stage race.
Despite suggestions that Brajkovic could be a key helper for team captain Lance Armstrong in the mountains of the Tour, Gallopin warned that the young Slovenian’s busy season so far could go against him.
“Right now, it’s 50-50,” said Gallopin, who will consult with team manager Johan Bruyneel this week after the Tour de Suisse where Armstrong and many other of the team’s top riders are racing.
“We can’t forget that Janez has raced a lot this season and was on peak form for the Dauphiné,” said Gallopin. “Whatever the decision on his Tour de France selection, he needs rest first and foremost, and a decision will only be made after the Tour de Suisse.”
Ironically, Brajkovic said that learning to rest more and better has been a key factor in his renaissance this season, which has seen him claim a number of top10 places in one-week stage races.
“I’ve had a lot of bad luck in the past but there’s a reason I’m more constant this year. I’ve learned to rest more than I used to, and that means I’m coming to races a lot fresher,” he said.