Matt Brammeier believes that Great Britain have the depth of talent in the men's squad to win the Road World Championships, and that his personal relationships with many of the riders is an asset when it comes to management.
Brammeier, 33, retired from professional competition mid-way through the 2018 road season with the plan of becoming the lead academy coach for the men's endurance programme. With Rod Ellingworth stepping aside as the senior road coach, a position he'd been in since 2009, Brammeier's role extended to the senior men's road team. The former HTC and Aqua Blue rider has already drawn up his long list for the men's race with Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and the Yates brothers all included in Thursday's announcement. The 16-strong roster will be narrowed down to eight ahead of the men's road race in Innsbruck, and Brammeier believes that he can handle the delicate matters surrounding selections.
"I'm sure that there will be some difficult decisions to make and some difficult phone calls but I'll just try and stay open and honest with everyone," Brammeier told Cyclingnews.
"The goal has to be to win. With the team that we have there's a realistic chance. We need to get the selection finalised first and speak to all the riders before we start narrowing it all down in terms of what each individual rider has to do."
With many of the men's long list competing at the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour of Britain, Brammeier has time to assess his riders' form. The Yates brothers have already spoken about the desire to race at the Worlds, and the course arguably suits them more than most. Along with Thomas and Steve Cummings, they have one-day race pedigree.
"We've got a pretty good pool of riders to choose from and now it's about seeing how they come out of the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain," Brammeier said.
"Obviously, we've got first and third in the Tour de France, and we've got the Yates brothers, so we've got a good chance to be successful. Hopefully they all stay healthy and then show some form over the next few weeks.
"It's a bit unknown for some of them who are coming out of the Tour and are just getting back into racing. Everyone is committed, though, and they're keen and motivated to get stuck in. Everyone on the list that I've created, they're all passionate about riding for their country and riding for each other. It's a good group, and I'm excited.
"With selection, it's just about being one of the best eight riders for GB on that course. It's not really rocket science in that we know what the race is going to be like. It's going to be one of the hardest Worlds we've had in the last few years, so it's about having a strong team that can go as deep into the race as we can."
With Ellingworth stepping aside after a long spell in charge, Brammeier has been able to bring his own personality to the role. There have been few sweeping changes but one of the criticisms leveled at Ellingworth was the fact that he was employed by Team Sky. This was not a problem in itself, but it fostered a belief among some that Sky riders were given preferential treatment when it came to selection. This was particularly noticeable when Steve Cummings questioned the last few selections for the Worlds and Olympic teams.
"Rod is a good mate, and I speak to him every now and then and I'm sure we'll have a natter about stuff. I think I'll mostly do it on my own, and chat to riders, and work it out. I don't feel like I'm closer to one team or the other," Brammeier said.
The transition for Brammeier has seen him move from within the peloton to behind a desk. Being friends and colleagues with riders and then becoming their boss – even for a short period of time – is a challenge in itself, but Brammeier believes that by being open and honest with his riders he can build trust and respect.
"Those first few phone calls were weird at first but it's been nice and it's been refreshing. I've been looking forward to doing something else. It's quite daunting going into a new job after riding for so long but this is as similar as it was going to get for me. It's about dealing with the same people in the same world. It's been a good transition so far. I'm good mates with the lads on out long list and it's good for them because it means they can chat to me normally. They don't feel under pressure or stressed, or like they're talking to a boss," he said.
"There's no hidden agendas with me. I'll be open from day one and it's an open book for everyone involved. I want to create the right atmosphere so that we're a bit of a band of brothers and a good group. We want to draw on that side of things and make sure that the group feels close together."
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