RoadcyclingUK columnist, Matt Brammeier, will make his debut for Belgian super team, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.
The Irish national road and time trial champion, who rode this year alongside world road race champion, Mark Cavendish, at the now collapsed HTC-Highroad squad, will race in Australia in support of the German rider and former Vuelta a Espana stage winner, Gerard Ciolek.
Race director, Mike Turtur, welcomed Brammeier’s inclusion on the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step squad for the opening race of the 2012 WorldTour season.
“Brammeier is a versatile rider on the road and on the track, bringing invaluable experience and ability to adapt to a racing situation to the team,” he said.
Brammeier joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step with former HTC team mates, Bert Grabsch, Martin and Peter Velit, Frantisek Rabon, and world time trial champion, Tony Martin.
In Australia, Brammeier will ride alongside new team mates, Ciolek, Gert Steegmans, Andrew Fenn, Julien Vermote, and Italian national under 23 champion, Matteo Trentin.
The young British rider, Andrew Fenn, will also make his debut at the Tour Down Under. Like Brammeier, a graduate of Sean Kelly’s AN Post team, Fenn makes his jump to the WorldTour after a 2011 season that saw him win bronze at the world under 23 championships in Denmark.
Brammeier’s team leader in Australia, Ciolek, had a quiet 2011 after a successful spell as a member of Mark Cavendish’s sprint train at Columbia-HighRoad in 2008. Turtur described Ciolek as an “instrumental figure” in all four of Cavendish’s stage wins at the 2008 Tour De France.
Former Team Sky rider, Serge Pauwels, is hoping for a positive start to his career with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step after an injury-hit campaign in 2011. The Belgian won the Tour Down Under’s King of the Mountains competition in 2007.
Meanwhile, Spanish WorldTour team, Euskaltel Euskadi, have declared their squad for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under, which kicks off with the Down Under Classic in Adelaide on Sunday January 15.
The Basque outfit will field Ruben Perez, Gorka Izagirre, Pablo Urtasun, Romain Sicard and newcomers Adrian Saez de Arregui, Victor Cabedo and Ricardo Garcia.
Izagirre finished twelfth overall in last year’s Tour Down Under after claiming a top 10 finish on the third stage.
He and teammates, Urtasun, Sicard and Perez will train on the Costa Blanca until tomorrow in a bid to escape the bad weather of the Basque north.