Matt Brammeier, after racing in the WorldTour with Omega Pharma-QuickStep and HTC-Highroad, takes a break in the third-division with Azerbaijani team Synergy Baku. He plans to prove himself, help the team’s local riders and move up to the professional ranks next year.
“It’s always hard when you fall below the pro ranks, and I’m not getting any younger either,” Brammeier told Cycling Weekly. “Hopefully sports directors can see that I still have what it takes and I have a lot of value. I just have to get results and get myself back up there.”
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The three-time Irish champion already put his name in the results in his first race of the year in the team’s black, white and violet colours. He escaped and placed second in Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi stage one. He continues to lead the mountains competition and climbs on the podium daily for the red top.
Former Sky rider, Jeremy Hunt directs the Synergy Baku team. David McQuaid, son of ex-UCI president Pat McQuaid, manages the team. McQuaid brought Hunt onboard last year and convinced 28-year-old Brammeier to sign this winter after his former team, Champion Systems pulled out
“It was my only option to be in a decent team with a decent salary,” Brammeier said. “I was holding out for a couple of teams. Tinkoff-Saxo was looking very good but it fell through. I don’t know what happened. They were asking me to hold on but McQuaid already gave me a month and I didn’t want to have him wait any longer.”
Brammeier races smaller events this spring in Normandy and South Africa, and the team’s home race, the Tour of Azerbaijan. Afterwards, he takes a small break but will keep his fitness. He said that the team receives invitations at the last minute and so he wants to be ready to perform.
“I really hope I can get back into bigger team. I just enjoy being at races like Langkawi, the bigger races,” he added. “Everyone wants to ride at the top level. I think that’s where I have the most value. I am not a natural winner who can say he can win five races a year but as I showed this week I can take chances and can win races if I have a bit of luck.”
He explained that Synergy Baku programmed a series of good races and created a professional setup: “It’s a lot better than I expected it to be”. If the team manages to make the second division next year then he added that would happily stay. Otherwise, he has his eyes on first or second division. “As long as I’m in the big races in a pro team. I don’t care.”
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