Brändle signs contract extension with Israel Start-Up Nation

Cyclingnews
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 Israel Start-Up Nation's Matthias Brändle lines up for the start of stage 3 of the 2020 Tour de la Provence
Israel Start-Up Nation's Matthias Brändle lines up for the start of stage 3 of the 2020 Tour de la Provence

Matthias Brändle has signed a two-year contract extension with Israel Start-Up Nation that will keep the Austrian time trial specialist with the WorldTour team until at least the end of 2022.

"When the team puts so much trust in you, you give back so much more. It has been like that since I joined the team, and I'm thrilled that the journey continues," said 30-year-old Brändle on his team's website on Tuesday.

"I thrive in a team that doesn't only care about bottom-line results or judge you with the 'What have you done for us lately?' question. With ISN, we feel we are a family, and that's why I can give much more – my motivation hits the roof."

While the team has been touted as a possible destination for Team Ineos leader Chris Froome for next season, Brändle insists that he and his teammates will nevertheless be in the mix when competition restarts in earnest in late July and early August following the sport's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"We can compete with the best, even if we don't have the star riders that other teams have," he said.

Brändle will restart his 2020 season at the Sibiu Cycling Tour on July 23.

"I hope I can bring the win," he said of the Romanian stage race's opening prologue time trial. He'll go on to ride the rescheduled Giro d'Italia [October 3-25], where three individual time trials will feature this year, which Brändle said were "perfect" for him.

In October 2014, while riding for IAM Cycling, Brändle set a new Hour Record, surpassing the distance set the previous month by Germany's Jens Voigt to record 51.852km. The record stood for four months until it was in turn taken by Australian Rohan Dennis in February 2015.

Brändle then joined Trek-Segafredo in 2017, and won time trial stages at both the Baloise Belgium Tour and the Tour of Denmark, and moved on to Israel Start-Up Nation for the 2019 season, during which he become Austrian time trial champion for the fifth time in his career, as well as winning prologue time trials at the Tour of Estonia and the Tour of Taihu Lake.

This season, Brändle narrowly missed out on winning the final road stage of the Tour de la Provence, where he was pipped for the victory by Owain Doull (Team Ineos). Having started his season in Spain at the Mallorca Challenge and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, he went on to compete at the UAE Tour, which was cut short by the developing COVID-19 crisis.

"Frankly, I was able to enjoy the fact that I could be home and away from racing for the first time in many years," Brändle said of his enforced break from competition. "A lot of people were obviously stressed by this crisis, but I felt that I needed to make the most of it and relax.

"Actually, I think it helped me, as I regained my internal hunger and passion for racing. I can't wait until the season restarts and I can put my great shape into play," he said.

"Matthias always has a great attitude – both on and off the bike," added Israel Start-Up Nation manager Kjell Carlström of Brändle's contract extension. "His cheerfulness and positivity ensure we collectively perform well as a team."