Matt Brammeier says that he’s looking forward to the prospect of leading out Mark Cavendish when the pair race together at Dimension Data next season. Cavendish and Brammeier were teammates in HTC-Highroad’s final season and rode together on the Great Britain academy before that.
“I definitely want to get stuck in helping Cav and become an integral part of that team. I’ve done it before and I’ve kind of grown up with Cav doing all the lead-outs with him,” Brammeier told Cyclingnews. “He learned how to sprint and I learned how to do lead-outs at the same time. We’ve obviously been on teams together in the past and I know what he needs. That’s my biggest goal and what I’m looking forward to the most.
“In this team, with Cav and the races that we’re doing and now that we’re WorldTour I think that this is where my real value is. Hopefully I can prove that to the team and have a really good year. This is where I want to be for as long as possible. I just have to get my ass in gear and try to do a good job.”
He may have won his first professional victory but Brammeier’s 2015 season will probably be remembered for his spectacular crash on stage 6 of the Tour of Utah. The collision with a car left him in hospital with fractures to several ribs, and his sacral and pelvic bones, he also suffered a pneumothorax (air between the lungs and the chest cavity).
Prior to the accident, Brammeier had been going well in his first season with MTN-Qhubeka – even scoring his maiden professional win at the ZLM Toer - and was on course to make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana. Four months on from the accident, Brammeier is back on his bike and was able to train with the team at their camp in South Africa late last month. There are still a few aches and pains as a result but he’s in the clear now and says that he’s heading in the right direction for a return to racing at either the Mallorca Challenge or the Dubai Tour early next year.
“I’m really happy with where I am. My goal was always to come here (at the team training camp) and to be able to go out and ride with the guys and I’m doing that. I’m feeling good and I think I’m on track to start next year at the start of the year. I can’t really ask more than that,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that it will all go well, obviously we’ll have to keep checking along the way but so far I haven’t had any problems. If there are none in the near future then it should be ok.”
Brammeier is no stranger to coming back from major injury after he broke both his legs when he was hit by a cement truck during training in 2007. He remembers almost nothing of the Utah incident, but video footage that was posted on YouTube afterwards shows him losing control on a fast descent and colliding with a team car that was turning on a left-hand hairpin. After such a hefty collision, the 30-year-old was told that he was lucky not to have broken his neck. He also escaped any surgery, which has helped to speed up the recovery progress.
In previous seasons, an accident as late in the season as this one would have been a disaster for Brammeier. He has endured bad luck when it comes to teams with several folding around him, beginning with HTC-High Road in 2011. He had a spell at Omega Pharma-Quickstep and only learned while reading a newspaper article that they would not renew his contract beyond a season. He dropped down to Pro Continental level after that with Champion Systems in 2013 but was forced to race at Continental level when they folded. All this makes the news that Dimension Data will be racing at WorldTour level in 2016 all the more important for the four-time Irish national road race champion.
“It’s pretty special to look back where I was last year. The team that I was in was a nice team and I enjoyed my time there but obviously it was on a totally different level. If you told me last year that I would be back in the WorldTour, I would have definitely have grabbed that,” said Brammeier.