Screw the champagne
There’s a strong argument to be made that other than the three guys who made the podium in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Matthew Brammeier did more to distinguish himself than anybody else in the race. Yes, that’s you Sep Vanmarcke, Peter Sagan and Gearing Thomas.
The MTN-Qhubeka domestique went into the race as a workhorse for Tyler Farrar and Gerald Ciolek — but came out of Flanders by boosting his own stock and taking home his body weight in beer.
Brammeier tips the scales at 73kg and will receive his suds at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday in Antwerp, paid out in 75cl bottles. Which is way more than Sagan managed at the Ronde with his fourth place and code of PR silence.
Matt Brammeier made the seven man early break thereby creating some extended media coverage for his — so far — underachieving MTN-Qhubeka squad. That’s more than any other rider in the team managed to accomplish as Farrar finished seven minutes back in 58th place and Ciolek scored a DNF, Did Not Function.
Beside getting his team some camera love, he also scored a personal win and race goal by taking out the Sint-Eloois-Winkel sprint and winning his body weight in Steene Molen beer. The question becomes, should Sagan have targeted that sprint instead of overall victory? Better to win something than nothing and by lowering his sights, perhaps the ex-Fastvakian could have raised his spirits and glass. A tough call but there’s no disputing the victor in a two-up sprint between the man from Liverpool, England and Sagan.
The same goes for Sep Vanmarcke who came in as a top favorite for victory in the absence of Boonen and Cancellara but proceeded to disappear completely. Would he have been better off making sure he had something to celebrate in Flanders? And really, shouldn’t there also be a sprint where you win your body weight in frites? That would create a real battle, one followed with intense furor by the roadside fans.
There is plenty to critique in terms for tactics for Sagan and Vanmarcke. Mistakes were made and matches burned. The fact is, they both missed an opportunity to change the media conversation no matter what the final race outcome.
Journalists love free beer. Imagine if they’d run to the MTN-Qhubeka or Tinkoff-Saxo bus to find one of these underwhelming superstars pouring complimentary beers from their private stash? That’s a good story, huh?
That’s the kind of savvy move that alters the dynamic of the “What the Hell happened to you out there?” grilling the two would have to endure. Matt Brammeier, we salute you. Pay attention, Pete and Sep — always have a Plan B and that’s the beer.