Footon-Servetto-Fuji's youthful squad boasted several promising talents in 2010, one of which was Matthias Brändle, the Austrian proving he'll be a useful ally for the likes of Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov at Geox-TMC in 2011.
While he may still only be 20 years old, Brändle knows that next season will be a step up in terms of the status of races he'll be riding and the responsibility on his shoulders with two grand tour winners in the squad.
"It will be a new way of riding in every race I think. I have never been in the same team with such big riders like Menchov or Sastre, so I think it will be a matter of learning a new part of cycling," explained Brändle.
"I'm proud to be part of it and hope to make a good job. We will see how many chances I have to ride for my personal goals, but, at the right moment, in good shape... I think a lot of good things can happen.
"For me it is not important which or how many races I do: the way I race them is the only important thing. I don't know if it will be possible to race the Tour next year, but I'll work hard for my big dream," he said.
The rookie began his season with eighth overall in the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia before finishing the Giro d'Italia in May. While he may have missed out on selection for the Tour de France - Footon-Servetto-Fuji had the youngest team there - the Austrian was happy with his progression during the year.
"For me, I think it was a good start into the professional world of cycling," said Brändle. "I learned a lot about racing and had some ups and downs. My personal biggest goal, which I achieved, was coming into the Giro and finishing it, as the youngest guy into the peloton.
"A few years ago, I watched all these races on the television, and now I'm part of them. On the other hand, I think I have time to grow up, and also the team believes in me. That's very important in every partnership I think," he added.
His climbing ability, in addition to a penchant for climbing amongst some of the best of his age group, may well label Brändle a rider to watch in the future, given that he has time on his side, a fact of which he's well aware.
"For me, it's not important to shine right from now. I know that, being 20 years old, I cannot have such a high level and try to win or do well in big races. It is more important to learn how the races work in order to make it into the results in the fufure if you're strong enough.
"For next year, my plan is to race one level higher, and maybe it is enough to take one or some victories."
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