Matthias Brändle had to wait until the end of May to take his first victory for new team Trek-Segafredo, but the 27-year-old Austrain did it with panache on Friday at the Belgium Tour, taking out world champion Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) on his way to winning the stage 3 time trial by 14 seconds.
"I waited so long for this victory," Brändle said. "In January, I thought I could win, it didn't happen, and then the same in Andalusia and Tirreno. Now it finally happens. With my legs of today, I feel I can beat everybody."
Trek-Segafredo Director Dirk Demol put an even finer point on the result.
"Matthias was outstanding today," Demol said. "He beat Tony Martin, four-time world champion, by 13-14 seconds and that is quite a lot. He didn't beat just a regular guy."
Brändle, a time trial specialist who briefly held the UCI world hour record in 2014 and 2015, moved from the now-defunct IAM Cycling team to the Trek outfit in the offseason and has been looking to score his first win with the team since starting his season in January at the Tour de San Juan.
The Austrian time trial and road race champion had been targeting a top GC result at the five-day 2.HC Belgium Tour, but those hopes fell by the wayside when he missed the crucial move on the Kemmelberg during Thursday’s second stage.
"For me, the goal here was to do a good TT and maybe go for the GC if I have the legs, but yesterday I felt on the climb I was not ready yet," said Brändle, ho came to the race from an altitude camp that focused on endurance raher than intensity.
"But for the effort like today, I had fresh legs; I could do a super good power.” He said. “I think it was one of my best ones this year.
“I felt good; it was always fast. I knew it would be hard in the first part with the headwind and I knew I had to give everything there and then try to hold on for the rest. It was painful from the beginning, but I knew it had to be painful to win. During the TT I thought about it all the time: now is a second, now again is a second, now again…"
With his first victory for Trek in hand, Brändle was effusive with praise for his new team.
"I came to this team because they have so much experience with the TT," he said. "The mechanics did an awesome job. After some changes over the past months, they have now found the perfect set-up for the bike, and I feel now I am the fastest ever.
"I wanted to make the next step forward with this team, and I think today I did well – I have the fastest bike, the best trainers, and I beat the world champion, so I think I can be happy."