Meet Brandon McNulty
Reigning Junior Individual Time Trial World Champ, American Brandon McNulty is ready to make the leap to the big leagues. A new member of Rally Cycling, McNulty isn’t letting his lack of experience dampen his enthusiasm. Quite to the contrary, at the team’s camp in Oxnard, California he didn’t hesitate to attack his seasoned professional teammates. It was this aggressiveness that earned him the informal title of “Camp Champ,” when he bested his teammates in a scrimmage race on the final day of training. In spite of his aggressive performance on the bike, McNulty’s soft-spoken persona projects a quiet confidence that belies his vast potential.
We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Brandon at the Rally Cycling team camp presentation at the American Honda Museum in Torrance, CA.
What was it like to win the Junior ITT World Champs?
It was amazing. I mean it was two years coming because I came pretty close in 2015. So just to come off of that last year, it was incredible.
Did it come as a surprise to you or were you confident you could win going into it?
I wasn’t 100 percent certain on it, just because you never can be, but I was confident in my form and knew that if I had a good day I was going to be tough to beat. I wasn’t going into it cocky but I had confidence in my form, fitness, and preparation.
You’ve made the jump to the big leagues and bypassed the U23 development route chosen by many riders in your situation. What were the deciding factors that brought you to Rally?
I haven’t really bypassed the whole thing because Jonas [Rally Performance Director] and Pat [Rally Men’s Team Director] and all them are still really focused on the development of it, so it’s not really skipping it. Part of coming here was just having more experienced guys to learn from, that kind of thing. There’s a lot of experience on this team. It’s kind of just a good balance of them wanting to nurture my development and also having some really good guys to learn from. So I think that was the main factor, the experience of the team.
What is it like being a member of the Rally Cycling Team? Do you ever feel out of place being so young?
Not really. I mean many of the guys are only a few years older and we all have the same passion. So it’s just like racing with other guys.
What are your ambitions long term?
I’d like to make the jump to the WorldTour of course. I mean that’s obviously the goal within a few years.
When and how did you start riding?
My dad raced before I was born. Just locally and when I was born he kind of stopped. Once I was a little older he started riding again and I would see him go out on a ride and I always wanted to go with him. I was pretty young, maybe five or six, when I started going out on the dirt trails on a little 16” bike. Then I got a mountain bike and did my first mountain bike race when I was eight. Then I got a road bike when I was twelve and did my first crit after that and then just stuck with it.
Who’s your favorite rider of all time?
That’s a tough one… I really like Tony Martin, just because he time trials. And also Fabien [Cancellara] another time trial type guy, but also a legend.
Can you tell us something that no one knows about you such as a favorite hobby?
It’s hard to answer because outside of this your secret hobby is cycling! But, in the cycling world, I don’t know… I’m just going to go with a goofy answer and say that I really love Oreos and me and my friend, we like to try all of the new flavors when they come out.
What is your favorite food and drink?
My favorite food is probably sushi. And drink… probably lemonade.
What three words describe you best?
Quiet [laughs], driven, and aggressive when I’m racing.
Who inspires you? Inside or outside of the sport.
Inside the sport, guys like Tony Martin, the really good time trial guys. Outside of the sport I think my friends and family like to see me progress through the sport, so I’d say family and friends.
If you were not a pro rider, what would you do?
Before I was full time into cycling I was really into baseball, so hopefully I’d be playing baseball in college or something.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
I went to Switzerland with the National Team and we didn’t get to do a lot of riding, but that was definitely a beautiful place, so I’d like to do more riding there. It was also a great place to race.
What are your goals for the year? Are there specific races you are targeting?
U23 Worlds, but that is pretty far off. The main goal is just learning and progressing. Making the jump successfully to the big boy leagues.
How much experience do you have with SRAM components at this point?
I used SRAM on my road bikes up until last year when the team I was on rode Shimano, but I’d grown up with SRAM and always liked SRAM Force. I’m pretty used to DoubleTap. On my TT bike I have eTap, which I’m already used to.
You’ve chosen to go with SRAM RED eTap on your TT bike. What drove that decision? What advantages does eTap provide in your opinion?
I think the biggest thing is being able to shift when you are on the brakes. With the technical TT’s it’s really beneficial to get out of the saddle and have shifting as well instead of having to reach out. And obviously having no cables helps with aero benefits.
What has been your experience with eTap so far?
It’s been great. It’s really smooth. Solid. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s been pretty perfect.
Do you have eTap on your bike at home?
I do on my TT bike, but my road bikes are all mechanical.
What has eTap been like to maintain at home?
It’s easy. You just charge it once in a while and ride.
All photos courtesy of Sam Wiebe/Rally Cycling.