It’s ‘all change’ again for Omega Pharma Quick Step’s thrice Irish Elite Road Race champion, Matt Brammeier.
He’s a man who shapes his destiny – abandoning British Cycling’s Academy to walk his own path in Belgium, and his path this time has taken him to Asia’s first Pro Continental squad, Hong Kong’s Champion System.
A few years ago when it became apparent that this move away from the Academy had ruffled feathers and lessened his chances of riding for GB, he took advantage of his Irish ancestry and switched nationalities.
He did this to such good effect that he’s been twice Irish time trial champion and three times – and current – Irish road race champion.
His palmares as a young man were good – he won the British junior road race championship in 2003 and then U23 Dortmund six day in 2004 with Mark Cavendish.
In 2005 he won a stage in the tough Girvan Three Day, held at Easter on the hard roads of SW Scotland.
Season 2006 saw him turn professional in the colours of the Anglo/Belgian DFL team with the Downing brothers.
But for 2007 he ‘went native’ with Belgian team Profel, winning the British U23 time trial title.
He continued to learn his trade through 2008 and for 2009 transferred to the little team with the big programme – Irish/Belgian squad AN Post.
It was their colours he carried to victory in the 2010 Irish road race championship.
His prodigious work rate didn’t go unnoticed and for 2011 he was with ‘Cav’ at HTC; successfully defending his Irish road race title and beating time trial specialists Dave McCann (who earlier broke Chris Boardman’s British 25 mile record) and multiple British time trial champion Michael Hutchinson to win the national time trial title, too.
Left out of a job by the demise of HTC, he was snapped up by Omega Pharma Quick Step for 2012.
But despite being part of the team which dominated one day racing this season, it hasn’t been a great year for Brammeier.
He’s hoping for better things with Champion – he took time to speak to VeloVeritas soon after the deal had been done.
Congratulations on the new contract, Matt – a word we’ve heard a few times regarding your time at QuickStep is, ‘frustration.’
“Yes it was a bit of a nightmare season with injury and sickness – but I guess we all have them and I just have to put it behind me and move on.”
Were there spells – perhaps during Grand Tours – where the programme was light? we saw you rode the pro kermises.
“I was supposed to start the Giro; I used Romandie as my last part of prep, during Romandie the team pulled me from the Giro because I wasn’t going well enough.
“I came out of Romandie flying and ready to race yet I still wasn’t put into another program.
“That was the story of my season really.”
And some of the races you rode didn’t seem to suit you – Romandie, Colorado?
“Romandie was always part of my preparation – Tom Steels and I agreed that I should train hard and then hit Romandie fresh, suffer through it and hit Giro in good shape.
“This is why it was a shock to be pulled – we knew I would suffer, and I did.
“Colorado was torture; we didn’t have the team to be at the race. We started with only five riders; two of us couldn’t climb too well – but Levi was intent on riding so the rest of us got roped into it.
“That was also the end to my Vuelta ambitions having to go there.”
How much notice did you get from QuickStep that they weren’t keeping you?
“I never actually had any contact from the team about 2013.
“Only an article I read in the paper after Colorado informed me about my position there.”
What’s your take on the UCI points situation?
“I this it’s ok; it’s working, but they’re not quite there yet.
“As I’ve said before I think there should be value points awarded to each rider on the team in each point winning situation.
“That way each rider can have a value.
“If a good domestic does his job, normally his leader will score good points; thus leading to the domestique scoring good points – that goes with the whole ethic of cycling being a team sport.”
If you had your time over, would you still take the QuickStep ride?
“No, certainly not – I had a good offer on the table from Argos.
“I certainly would have gone there – they really wanted me for the rider I am, not part of a package.”
Did you avail yourself much of the new training facility, whilst you were on the team?
“I used a bit of the physios there, but we never really used it for training.
“It’s actually not going to be ready for some years yet.”
The Olympics must have been a disappointment, not getting the ride for Ireland – what reasons were you given?
“Same shit; I didn’t have points – you get my drift on points.”
How did you get the Champion Systems ride?
“I contacted the team directly and they were immediately interested.”
A national champion’s jersey is a good calling card, is it not?
“You would think so, but without points these days it’s hard to do anything.”
Three times on the bounce you’ve won – that takes a bit of doing.
“Yes it was pretty tough, each year I’m the marked man.
“To pull it off for the second time was great but to take the third it was just awesome, I think if I never win it again I can still be satisfied with my national campaign.”
Was Sky ever an option?
“Yes it was actually, I was talking with them pretty recently, but time was of the essence and things didn’t work out in time.”
Have you discussed a programme, yet – there will probably be a large Asian element?
“If it goes to plan, I’ll start in Qatar, Oman, Langkawi and classics – after that I’m not quite sure.”
Where do you plan to base yourself?
“Here there and everywhere.”
Do you know many of your new team mates – when’s the first get together?
“I know of most of the American/Euro guys on the team, especially Craig Lewis from HTC.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the guys and getting to know them all at our first camp in California in January.”
Is the team still on Fuji bikes for next year? – they’re nice tools.
“Yes, Fuji is our bike sponsor; I’m looking forward to getting going on it.”
You’ll be looking for more freedom with this team?
“For sure, that’s the main reason I joined the team; I really need some focus on my own performance.
“I don’t think it’s healthy to not have your own goals for such a long time.
“So to be able to have some plans of my own is awesome.”
2013 will be a good year, if…
“I win some races, and help the team to be a recognised and respected professional team in the future.”