Matt Brammeier signs for Tour de France debut outfit MTN Qhubeka

Multiple Irish champion’s first event will be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean race in Australia on February 1st

Hot on the heels of Wednesday's announcement that the MTN Qhubeka team will make its Tour de France debut this July, the squad confirmed yesterday that Matt Brammeier will sign a contract.

Speaking to The Irish Times, general manager Brian Smith said the multiple Irish champion had been brought on board to fortify the team, increasing the number of riders to 23 and helping its bid to also secure a Vuelta a España invite.

"Matt knows his way around stage races," Smith said. "He can ride Classics. He knows his way around the peloton. He is very good at looking after riders, he has looked after Mark Cavendish in the past."

Brammeier supported Cavendish in the past while part of his HTC Highroad and Omega Pharma QuickStep teams, but has had to race at the lower Continental team level for the past two years. He has worked hard in the meantime and Smith said he is confident he can ride strongly with his new team.

First contact

Brammeier told

The Irish Times

he first made contact with the team last summer, realising it would be an ideal fit. It has signed several strong sprinters including

Matt Goss

,

Theo Bos

and

Tyler Farrar

plus all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen, and already had 2013 Milan-Sanremo winner

Gerald Ciolek

on board.

The Irishman’s past work with Cavendish plus his attributes should see him help those and other protected riders to achieve good results. He hopes too to have his own chances during the year. Providing he has good form, there is a possibility that he could be selected to ride the Tour de France.

“The selections aren’t going to be made now for the Tour, they will be made after the first half of the season,” he said. “I can only go out there and perform and do my best. I can dream and hope of doing the Tour de France.”

His first event will be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean race in Australia on February 1st.

In other news, former world champion Martyn Irvine and other Irish riders will begin their World Cup campaign in Cali, Colombia, today. Irvine, Ryan Mullen, Cormac Clarke, Thomas Fallon, Seán Downey, Eoin Mullen, Caroline Ryan, Lydia Boylan, Lauren Creamer, Mel Spath, Josie Knight and Shannon McCurley have travelled for the final contest before the world championships in Paris next month. They will compete between today and Sunday, with qualification for some of the championship events one goal.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling

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