Matt Brammeier has said that the presence of so many HTC-Highroad riders and staff at Omega Pharma-Quick Step encouraged him to make the move to the revamped squad for the 2012 season.
Following the announcement that HTC-Highroad would cease operations at the end of this season, Tony Martin, František Rabon, Bert Grabsch and Martin and Peter Velits are among the riders who have been snapped up by Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Brian Holm joins as a directeur sportif, with Rolf Aldag also understood to be close to an agreement with the team.
“Having a core group from HTC going across to Quick Step meant that it was a no-brainer decision really,” Brammeier told Cyclingnews. “As soon as I knew all of those guys were going and the offer was there, it was definitely what I wanted to do.”
Brammeier has enjoyed a fine season in HTC-Highroad colours, with his Irish champion’s jersey a distinctive presence at the front end of the peloton, and he believes that it was such willingness to work for the team that caught Quick Step’s eye.
“I think that it was just the fact that I did my job so well this year, I just rode a selfless year,” Brammeier said. “They [HTC-Highroad management] said to me at the start of the year that if I could do what was asked from me and help the team and do my job, then there was going to be a job for me in the team for a long time. I kind of sacrificed every race of the year for the team, so I didn’t really get my own chances much.”
It briefly appeared as though Brammeier’s dedication to the cause would go unrewarded in August, when it emerged that HTC-Highroad would disband at the end of the year.
“When I got word that the team was closing, I thought fuck, I’ve done this all year for the team and now there’s no team,” Brammeier said. “I was a bit worried for a while, but Brian Holm and Rolf Aldag really looked after me well in helping find us a new team.”
Although rumours of Bob Stapleton’s difficulties in finding a sponsor for the squad had been circulating for some time, Brammeier was surprised to learn of the team’s demise, especially as he had been offered a contract new two-year contract just a week before the announcement.
“The week before it was announced I was talking with the team and they made me an offer for the next two seasons,” he said. “We talked money, we talked everything, and everything was kind of a done deal apart from a signed contract. Everything was going to plan, I was really happy, and then the next thing the news came out. I had a phone call in the morning saying that everything was over. C’est la vie.”
After illness forced him to abandon the time trial at the UCI World Championships, Brammeier recovered to finish the road race in the main peloton and he is now set to ride the inaugural Tour of Beijing, which gets underway on October 5.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.