Martin Reimer Interview: Returning to pro cycling after a year of ‘normal’ life
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Martin Reimer Interview: Returning to pro cycling after a year of ‘normal’ life

by Ed Hood at 7:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
MTN Qhubeka gives new start to former Cervélo Test Team rider

Martin ReimerOne for the ‘back from the dead file’ is 25 year-old former German Elite Road Race Champion, Martin Reimer.

A stand out first season as a pro with Cervélo Test Team saw him win the German Elite Road Championship, take third on GC in the Tour of Britain and finish in the top ten of the Tour of Denmark and Paris-Tours in 2009.

But 2010 was less dynamic and a move to Skil-Shimano for 2011 never sparkled.

He sat out 2012 but is back for 2013 with batteries recharged, joining the young and dynamic MTN-Qhubeka Samsung team which recently became Africa’s first Pro Continental squad.

Team boss Douglas Ryder explained the team’s structure to us like this: “MTN is Africa’s Movistar, if you like; they’re a telecoms company who operate in 21 African countries. Qhubeka is part of World Bike Relief; it’s a Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa) word that means “to carry on”, “to progress”, “to move forward”.

“Qhubeka projects aim to help rural communities move forward and progress by giving bicycles to children in return for work done to improve their environment and their community.”

Reimer is hoping to get back to full speed this season. His early palmares displayed a talent for the track with national medals in the team pursuit but, as he tells VeloNation, it was never a direction he wished to explore. “Not really,” he said, “but when I was U23 I had to ride the team pursuit, although I was second in the German championship in 2007 in the discipline.”

In 2008, second place on GC in the U23 Thuringen Rundfahrt; fifth on GC in the Brandenburg Rundfahrt and a bronze medal in the German U23 TT champs were good enough to get the man from Freiburg the ride with Cervélo Test Team for 2009.

Looking back, Reimer says he enjoyed his time on the team. “It was really nice to ride for Cervélo; we were like a big family and that's why we were successful.”

Howeve he didn’t replicate his excellent 2009 season during his second year with Cervélo, although it was by no means a disaster.

He narrowly missed out on a stage win in the Criterium du Dauphine to JJ Haedo and landed placings; but nothing to make Jonathan Vaughters to add him to the roster when Cervélo merged with Garmin.

Reimer is philosophical about the period. “I had a disrupted season due to sickness, crashes and some family problems. I was disappointed not to go to Garmin because I think I was good enough for the team - but that's just how things worked out.”

Instead, he went to Skil Shimano. That didn’t work out well for him and it is a period he’s reluctant to talk about. Fifth on stage one of the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia as good as it got.

Quitting the sport, then returning:

Reimer’s state of mind wasn’t the best at the end of the 2011 season and there was no contract for 2012. “I tried,” he said, “but I was mentally empty. In the end, the break from cycling was good for me.”

However he didn’t vegetate during his year out: “I created an online shop for a client and did a lot of different sports - but I did keep riding my bike. I missed the competition and being out in nature every day. I didn't enjoy waking up early and working in an office.”

Heading towards his first races, he finds himself in surroundings that will be a little familiar. Cervélo Test Team’s Jens Zemke and Thomas Campana will be part of the management at MTN. Reimer has worked with both men before and says that whilst it’s a positive factor, it’s not the only one.

Former Cervélo rider and Giro time trial winner, Ignatas Konovalovas will be with MTN too, a relationship which Reimer looks forward to renewing. “We’re very good friends. It was great hanging out at the MTN training camp again. He brings a great atmosphere to the team.”

Reimer has another reason that he feels good about his new squad. The team’s unique stance that it’s not just about selling product, and this was one of the main reasons Reimer decided to go with them. “The team is different to any other team,” he said.

“The Qhubeka initiative of putting one million disadvantaged African kids on bikes means we don't just race our bikes but can make a difference to people’s lives in African Continent.

“A portion of our prize money goes to Qhubeka too.”

Reimer has already met his new team mates at the squad’s first camp. “It was in December in South Africa. We were there for three weeks. The team is really professional and we are all motivated for the new season,” he explained.

“We talked about our programme for the first few months, but we have another training camp in Europe in the New Year - then we will talk about targeting some of the early season Classics.

“I want to help the leaders and I wish to come back to the form I had in 2009 – I love the Classics and races with sprint finishes.”

When asked about his goals for 2013, he gave two goals. “To help my teammates, and to get a contract for 2014. That would mean I was performing well enough in the races,” he stated.


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