Matt Brammeier Interview: Feeling at home with Omega Pharma Quick Step
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Matt Brammeier Interview: Feeling at home with Omega Pharma Quick Step

by Ed Hood at 8:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Irish champion continues progression after HTC Highroad

Matt BrammeierOmega Pharma Quick Step rider Matt Brammeier is a man who does things his own way. He abandoned British Cycling’s Academy to do his own thing in Belgium.

And when it was apparent that this move had perhaps 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 current reigning Irish elite road race and time trial 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 this year’s ‘team of the season, so far,’ Omega Pharma Quick Step.

In between stages at the Tour of Romandie, he took time to talk to VeloNation about his career progression – and impress us with his Flemish (we think!)

VeloNation: Profel in 2007 - to Omega Pharma Quick Step in 2012…you've come a long way, Matt. What's been the major factor in your constant progression?

Matt Brammeier:
Nothing in particular really. I haven't really changed anything over the years.

Obviously I've changed some of the ways I do things as I've got older and a little bit smarter, but I'd like to say I was pretty professional and motivated from a young age.

MB: Yes, I do have an agent (Andrew McQuaid) but I think I got my contract for riding well in 2011.

HTC seemed pretty happy with my work and it looks like a few other directors noticed me also over the year.

How is it on Omega Pharma Quick Step? It’s a big team, big names - do the egos match?

MB: It will probably sound like a cliché, but there are no real egos here.

In the race we are all different and have different levels of respect and duties but at the dinner table we are all equal, and it really feels that way.

VN: Is Mr. Lefevre as formidable to the riders as he is to those of us holding a notebook?

MB: We don't really touch base with him much; for sure everybody is a little tense and nervous when their boss is hanging round though, yeah!

VN: Being on Omega Pharma Quick Step and living in Flanders must be a bit like being a Manchester United player?

MB: Ha! I suppose it is.

I have noticed a bit of a difference in the attention I’ve had this year already.

VN: The demise of HTC must have been a surprise and disappointment?

MB: To be honest, looking back, it wasn't really such a big surprise. The only thing that got me was the last-minute collapsing of the team, one minute I had a new contract the next I had nothing.

It was a bit of a gutter to say the least, but I was lucky to be offered a place here and I’m happy as ever in this team.

VN: Where's home in Belgium - are there plenty of 'Anglos' to train with?

MB: Home is still UK. I spend a lot of time in Belgium but I don't really train much there after the Classics.

There are a few English guys about, but I normally train alone when I’m actually 'training' there.

I ride to the cafe with them quite often, mind...

VN: Is ex-British professional champion, Tim Harris still your 'mentor?’

MB: He's always kicking about with a word to say!

He keeps us entertained!

Matt BrammeierVN: That's seven years on the Belgian race scene…what changes have you witnessed?

MB: Not much to be honest.

The Belgian guys have a real special style of racing and are sometimes quite traditional or stuck in their ways.

I think with some of their backgrounds in cycling they get a lot more pressure from the family when they are young.

This isn't always good when you’re trying to get a team to gel together.

VN: You won the Irish TT title last year, beating Messrs. McCann and Hutchison - is that an aspect of your riding you've been working on?

MB: Not at all, I had hardly ridden my TT bike at all before the race. It was a bit of a shock to win.

I was just generally going well that week and suffered well and rode a good time trial.

I think the horrible weather that day was to my advantage.

VN: How does the programme at Omega Pharma Quick Step compare to HTC and how does your role differ? For example, what was your brief for the day at Liège-Bastogne-Liège?

MB: It’s been a little different so far this year.

I started really early to get ready for the Classics.

I got in good shape and then got sick - purely bad luck and totally out of my control.

Liege is never going to be my race, unless I lose 10kg overnight.

I've said before it’s actually my nightmare race, it’s so hard, I just hate it.

I was called up last minute for the second year running and just rode as far as I could and tried to position our leader well into Cote De Wanne and pulled the pin.

It’s one damned hard bike race!

VN: Will we see you in your first Grand Tour this year?

MB: Fingers crossed, yes.

VN: You've been racing since Down Under - are you due a break?

MB: I took a break during the Classics when I was sick, that should see me through another few months.

VN: Do the Olympics figure in your plans?

MB: Yes I would love to ride in London. The selection criteria doesn't quite favour a domestique rider as much as I'd like, but I hope the selectors are looking at more than the results on the web.

VN: When you took up Irish nationality you said it would give you more opportunities on the track - will you be able to take up on that?

MB: Nope, the track is well and truly off my radar now. Not interested…

VN: How's the Flemish going?

MB: Zijn worden beter. Ik kan meer en meer elke dag begrijpen..


…Which we think means that it’s getting better all the time!

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