By Sophie Smith
Matt Brammeier has been living in the fast lane signing with his fifth career team in as many years and honouring a late call-up to race in Australia.
The 29-year-old made his debut with MTN-Qhubeka at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race and then the Herald Sun Tour, Australia’s oldest stage race, this week after finalising a contract with the Professional Continental squad just last month.
“I wasn’t suppose to start for another few weeks so it was a bit of a shock to be racing so early,” Brammeier said prior to the penultimate stage today. “Everything happened a bit fast with joining the team and I was off to training camp pretty early. It was a bit of hassle there getting set-up on the bike and stuff like that. I’m actually happy though with where I am at the minute.”
Brammeier has been nursing muscle strain he puts down to equipment adjustment though showed no sign of weakness today setting the pace at the front of the peloton.
Liverpool-born Irishman Matt Brammeier signs to African MTN-Qhubeka team on a two-year deal
The four-time Irish national road champion has raced across three different calendars - Continental, Professional Continental and WorldTour - since 2011. He left the powerhouse HTC-Highroad after it folded for Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 2012, then went onto the Professional Continental Champion System outfit and spent last season racing with the Continental Synergy Baku team. MTN-Qhubeka represents a fresh start on the back of a trying 2014 season.
“We did a lot of racing in Asia and East Europe and it wasn’t much fun to be honest,” Brammeier reflected on last season. “It was a tough year mentally and physically. Because you’re on a lower level you’re expected to get big results and sometimes it’s a lot harder than people imagine. Some of these races, in like Czech Republic and east Europe, for example, you’ve got a lot of real strong Russian teams so you’re kind expected to perform at a really high level… A lot of the time I’d do a 2.2 race and the power files and stuff would be harder than a pro race. Also the travelling kind of cracked me a bit. I was back and to, to Asia and driving across Europe every weekend. It got a bit old after a couple of months.
“Last year I had to be on a good level and stay fit the whole year because I did quite a lot of racing,” he continued. “There were sometimes big gaps between the races but there wasn’t really any real focuses throughout the year, we just kind of had to be on a good level all year. Now it’s going to be a lot different.”
Brammeier seems comfortable racing in Australia with team-mates, including former Highroad alum Matt Goss, at the start of the new season in which selection for the biggest races, including the classics and Tour de France, is again an objective.
“I’m kind of getting used to a new set-up every year,” he said. “Being back with some of the guys I’ve raced with in the past, like Gossy and a lot of good friends on the team, it’s nice to be around a good group of guys and have fun. We’re clicking already well in the groups, like yesterday in the [stage two] sprint, we got together it, didn’t work out like we wanted it to but I think we’ve definitely got a good group for the sprints.
“For me it’s the perfect team really. I think my characteristics are suited to helping them perfectly.”
MTN-Qhubeka were closer to a victory at the Herald Sun Tour today with Tyler Farrar finishing second to Caleb Ewan in the bunch sprint finish at Nagambie.
Unlike last year, Brammeier is set to peak for specific events including the classics for which his professional team has options in Farrar, Goss, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Theo Bos to name a few.
“I want to be good at the start of the year at the classics,” he said. “Gossy, Tyler and Theo, whoever is the fastest guy on the day, we’ve got a luxury we can choose between three or four really fast guys so it should be an exciting spring.”
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