Brammeier joy after solo surge
Ireland's Matt Brammeier claimed the biggest victory of his professional career yesterday when he snatched the fourth and final stage of the ZLM Toer in Holland from under the nose of some of the world's best sprinters.
With an early eight-man breakaway group reeled in with 35km to go on yesterday's 183km stage, the finale looked set for a bunch sprint finish until Brammeier jumped clear with 14km remaining.
Showing the time-trialling ability that previously earned him a national title against the clock, the MTM Qhubeka rider had opened a 40-second lead over the peloton with 10km to go.
Although the sprinters' team of Lotto-Soudal, Ettix Quickstep and LottoNL Jumbo led the charge behind him, Brammeier held a one-minute advantage going under the 3km-to-go banner and managed to hold on to win the stage by 25 seconds from former Tour de France green jersey Andre Greipel and Kiwi Greg Henderson.
Having been ill after the recent Tour of Luxembourg, Brammeier was delighted with his first pro victory abroad.
"I had a bit of a rough few days after Luxembourg," he said. "I picked up a bit of a virus and I'm still getting over it, but today I felt better. I saw the opportunity at the end of the stage when the peloton stalled a bit, so I thought I'd give it a go.
"Ninety nine times out of a hundred it doesn't work, but today was that one time it did work. I'm so happy to get this win."
While Brammeier hasn't earned selection for the African-backed MTN Qhubeka's debut at the Tour de France next month, his win comes ahead of the national road race championships in Omagh.