Video: Brammeier looks forward to Vuelta debut, celebrates historic nationals win
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Video: Brammeier looks forward to Vuelta debut, celebrates historic nationals win

by Shane Stokes at 1:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Vuelta a España, National Championships, Video
Third consecutive national title a record; second Olympic appeal underway

Matt BrammeierHaving become on Sunday the first person ever to take three consecutive Irish elite road race championships, Matt Brammeier has confirmed that he will make his Grand Tour debut this August in the Vuelta a España. The Omega Pharma Quick Step rider has been told by the Belgian team that he will ride the Spanish Tour, and will prepare for the race by riding the Tour of Austria, and most likely the Eneco Tour.

Speaking to VeloNation in a video interview carried out minutes before he received the distinctive shamrock jersey once again, got his third RR gold medal, then had that jersey soaked in champagne by bronze-medallist Philip Lavery (Node4 Giordana), Brammeier said that he felt ‘really good’ about riding the Vuelta. “I was supposed to do the Giro this year but I had a few problems before it and I ended up not riding,” he explained. “It is pretty important to get the first one under my belt and to make sure that I am in good shape.”

Brammeier was a rider with the HTC Highroad team last year, stepping up to WorldTour level after two years with the An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team. He rode as part of the support group for sprinters with HTC Highroad, helping riders such as Mark Cavendish to victories, then moved over to Omega Pharma Quick Step when the US team folded.

He’s continued his domestique role there but, as his Irish championship wins ahead of riders such as Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche show, he’s also got a lot of personal strength that could translate into results if he gets the opportunity. He hopes that the chance comes in the Vuelta, but accepts he will primarily be there to help others.

“I really don’t know what the team will be, but obviously we will have some sprinters there and some good GC riders,” he said, when asked if Tom Boonen would be taking part. “There will always be good riders on this team, so as always I will do my job and play a support role. Hopefully maybe one day I can take my chance as well.”

Irish championships and Olympic appeal:

Brammeier was involved in all of the big moves in Sunday’s road race in Clonmel, getting into a large break which went clear on the opening lap and gained a minute, forcing pre-race favourites such as Roche (Ag2r la Mondiale) and Sam Bennett (An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly) to chase hard for a long time and to burn up important energy.

He was then part of a later four man move which pressed on from that group, with Roche, Lavery and Martyn Irvine (RTS Racing) also present. Future Omnium Olympian Irvine attacked on the penultimate lap and opened a lead of over twenty seconds, but he was caught and dropped just under a lap later at the climb of Colonel’s Hill.

Then, after a couple of surges by Lavery were brought back, Brammeier clipped away just over two kilometres from the line and soloed in to win ahead of Roche and best under 23 rider Lavery.

“I really wanted to win today, more than any other year. So to win is special,” he said, most likely referring to his non-selection for the Irish Olympic road race team, and his desire to prove a point. ‘[At the end] there was a lot of jumping around…Nico and Philip were attacking quite a lot. I was kind of depending on my sprint a little bit. There was a bit of hesitation then, and I clipped away with two kilometres to go. They hesitated a little bit behind me in the chase…that is the only split second you need in a finish of a race like this.”

When Brammeier went across the finish line, he held his finger to his mouth in a ‘shush’ gesture. That was interpreted by some as relating to the Olympic selection decision. Both Cycling Ireland and his agent Andrew McQuaid confirmed that he was appealing the selection for a second time.

Ireland had secured three places for the road race on the basis of its world ranking last year. In order to determine which riders would take part, Cycling Ireland laid out a selection criteria last December which was based around top ten placings in a range of different level events.

Brammeier’s work for others meant that he had limited chances to chase his own results and, like UnitedHealthcare rider Philip Deignan, got no points under Cycling Ireland’s criteria. Other riders such as Roche, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Sam Bennett (An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly) and David McCann (RTS Racing) did clock up points, the latter two doing so in UCI .2 ranked races.

Cycling Ireland selectors also had up to 100 discretionary points which could be allocated to each rider depending on their suitability to the course and ability to perform there. They weighed things up and ultimately awarded the three places to Martin, Roche and McCann, with Bennett as a reserve.

Brammeier appealed this on June 7th, Cycling Ireland’s appeal board decided there was some merit to the appeal and passed it back to the selectors to examine again, but they stuck with their original decision.

Unhappy with the result, Brammeier and McQuaid then appealed this ruling to the Olympic Council of Ireland, who are currently considering the case. “The appeal was lodged via email late Friday night to the OCI, and a hard copy was sent in the post today,” said McQuaid to VeloNation on Monday. “Unfortunately I have no idea on time scale [in relation to a final decision – ed.]”

In the video above Brammeier goes into detail about his nationals win, talks about his planned Vuelta debut and also discusses how he has recovered from an operation last November to take out a long pin from his leg. It had been put in place when he was hit by a truck four and a half years ago, suffering multiple fractures.

He feels that he’s still not fully over the accident. However, his three consecutive national titles show that he’s a very strong rider nonetheless. He’ll be able to build on that when he has a Grand Tour in his legs this autumn.


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