Janez Brajkovič was world under-23 time trial champion in 2004, beating Thomas Dekker and Vincenzo Nibali to the gold medal. It was a performance that caught the eye of Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel team and Brajkovič turned professional for them in 2005. At the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné, Brajkovič matched Alberto Contador in the mountains, beat him convincingly in the time trial and rode shoulder to shoulder with the Spaniard on Alpe d’Huez to clinch overall victory.
Ninth place in the 2012 Tour de France was the best by a Slovenian at the Tour until Primož Roglič finished fourth two years ago. But that result represented a high water mark for Brajkovič and he struggled with illness and injuries over the following seasons.
In 2018, it was announced that he had tested positive for methylhexanamine. His suspension was reduced to ten months when the authorities accepted the substance had been in a food supplement he’d been taking. And then, last year, in a post on his website titled ‘Skeletons in the closet’ Brajkovič revealed he had struggled with an eating disorder, bulimia, on and off throughout his career.
In this episode he talks openly about a difficult subject – disordered eating which became an eating disorder, and the difficulty of competing at the top level in sport while suffering from poor mental health. It’s a sensitive subject and one that penetrates cycling’s seemingly tough exterior and encompasses the sport’s obsession with diet and weight.