IAM Cycling's cobbled Classics campaign ended with team failing to land a major victory. The team was handicapped with Sylvain Chavanel and Heinrich Haussler both afflicted by illness but the Swiss based team is now turning its attention to the Ardennes with two 1.1 warm up races on the agenda.
Matthias Brändle has spent the past fifteen days preparing for the busy week ahead of racing and is excited to pin a number on his back again at De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne, the warm up race before the big three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
The two 1.1 races take place on Wednesday and Thursday staring with La Flèche Brabançonne in Belgium and GP de Denain in Northern France.
"I trained very well at home. On Sunday, before I settled down to watch Paris-Roubaix where we didn't have much luck, I took a long ride. On Monday I took an easier ride just to spin the legs and then on Tuesday I will join the team to race two totally different events," Brändle said.
"Then I'll follow them with Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
"Nothing beats competition if you want to get into a good rhythm."
Last year it was Peter Sagan (Cannondale) who triumphed over then-world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) at La Flèche Brabançonne, while it was Arnaud Démare (FDJ) who was the fastest at the GP de Denain.
Brändle has a clear plan for his first two appointments this week and is confident the team can perform well with several options to call upon.
"We have a great team for the two races. At La Flèche Brabançonne we can make use of our tight team work on the hilly course that invites escapes and breakaways.
"But then at Denain, I can imagine that we will ride hard to help Matteo Pelucchi go for the win. That course will be more suitable to the sprinters and is a test for the specialists in the final stretch."
IAM Cycling for La Flèche Brabançonne (1.1): Matthias Brändle, Stefan Denifl, Jonathan Fumeaux, Kevyn Ista, Pirmin Lang, Gustav Larsson, Sébastien Reichenbach and Patrick Schelling
IAM Cycling for GP de Denain (1.1): Marcel Aregger, Matthias Brändle, Kevyn Ista, Roger Kluge, Pirmin Lang, Matteo Pelucchi, Vicente Reynes and Patrick Schelling.