Slovenia’s Jani Brajkovic, a resident of UAE since 2010, took the Men’s Open crown at the 75km Nad Al Sheba Cycling Championship on Thursday night, finishing a mere 0.07 seconds ahead of his friend Vladimir Gusev of Russia.
His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council and Chairman of Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament’s Organizing Committee, flagged off the race, which featured more than 370 riders of different nationalities, in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, Hassan Al Mazrouei, Director of NAS Sports Tournament, Adel Al Bannay, Chairman of the Tournament’s Technical Committee, and a number of UAE Cycling Federation officials.
Brajkovic, winner of the UCI Under-23 Road World Championships time trial title in 2004, took the lead from the start and topped the leaderboard with a time of one hour, 41 minutes and 45.26 seconds despite waiting for Gusev when the Russian suffered a puncture in the middle of the race.
The Slovenian, who finished ninth overall at the 2012 Tour de France and fourth at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour, will take home the winner’s cheque of AED 18,000, while Gusev (1:41:45.33) – Brajkovic’s teammate early in their career at professional road racing teams Discovery Channel and Astana between 2006 and 2008 – will get AED 12,000 for his runners-up finish.
Slovenia’s Grega Bole, another former world cycling tour professional who was riding for UCI WorldTeam Bahrain–McLaren until 2020, finished third in 1:43:43.46 and will receive a cheque of AED 9,600.
He was followed by the Emirati duo of Talal Mohammed (1:43:43.77) and Khalid Mayouf (1:43:43.82) in fourth and fifth. All the riders who finished between 4th to 9th will get AED 3,600 each.
“It was a very nice race,” said Brajkovic, 37, who was riding for Slovenia-based Continental cycling team Adria Mobil until last year. “The road itself is so nice that the speeds are very high… there is no problem anywhere.
“There was a lot of riders at the start, so I needed to make sure that I am at the front all the time and not risky fashion.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the race Vladimir got a puncture and couldn’t get a wheel.
But anyways, I decided to wait for him because together we are much, much stronger.”
Calling Brajkovic a deserving champion, Gusev said: “I had a technical problem, a puncture, and he waited for me.—APP