Irish rider hoping Champion System can be saved
Time is running out for Matt Brammeier as he searches for a contract for next season. He joined the Chinese Champion System squad this season, but news that they will fold at the end of the year means that he is on the look-out for a deal for 2014.
Brammeier is yet to put his signature to a contract and the Tour of Beijing is likely to be his last chance to impress a potential employer. “Most of us still need to find a team. We’re all trying to do something,” Brammeier told Cyclingnews. “I’ll be looking to get into some breakaways and take my chances when they come.”
There are a few opportunities for Brammeier to make his move, but it will involve an element of luck. “Maybe on the third stage, when it is tougher, where a small group will suit me better,” he said. “With the team we have here, we can’t really have control of the race. We just have to follow the pattern of the race and take our chances.”
There is one possible ray of light for Brammeier and the rest of the Champion System squad. Manager Ed Beamon is still scouting out potential sponsors and believes he may be able to keep the squad running. “It’s not 100% over, there is still a chance,” says Brammeier. “Ed, our director, is trying very hard to find some potential sponsors over here. It would be nice to save the team. As long as I’m riding my bike next year, I’ll be happy.”
The four-time Irish national road race champion was in a similar situation last season, when he only discovered via a newspaper article that Omega Pharma-QuickStep wouldn’t be re-signing him. He finally secured a spot on the Champion System team, but says that this year’s market is like nothing he’s witnessed before.
“This year has been a disaster, with five pro teams gone,” said Brammeier. “It’s unheard of. I’ve never seen it before and everyone I’ve spoken to says they’ve never seen it so bad.”
This autumn has seen the demise of two WorldTour teams and three Pro Continental squads, leaving many riders looking for a new contract. “There’s probably 50 or 60 guys out there who are on the same level and fighting for the same spots,” Brammeier explained. “There are still a lot of good guys out there and I think people are waiting to see what happens with all of the top guys. Then we’ll see what happens with the rest of the spots.”
With the Giro d’Italia starting in Ireland next season, Brammeier wants to show off his national champion’s jersey off to the home crowd. He’s also hoping that the lure of the jersey might make him a more attractive prospect for teams. “I was really hoping with the Giro start next year it might bring something,” he said.
The Giro will start in Belfast on the 9th May, before heading south to Dublin two days later. It is the second time a grand tour has visited Ireland, after the 1998 Tour de France.
“As soon as it was announced it was a big goal and a dream of mine, but it’s not looking good at the moment. I’m hoping that I will be able to do something and the jersey might give me a little more attention. Fingers crossed.”
If he does find a professional contract, this will be Brammeier’s fifth team in as many years. He has raced for HTC-Highroad, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and now Champion System since leaving the An Post-Sean Kelly team at the end of 2010.