Feeling at home, Breschel targets Flanders for Saxo

Danish classics man is back at home with Saxo-Tinkoff and is aiming for De Ronde, the classic he cherishes more than any other

MILAN (VN) — Dane Matti Breschel returns to the classics this season with home team Saxo-Tinkoff, targeting the glory days before he joined Rabobank and lost track of the sharp end of the spring races.

“I don’t think of this as a big comeback,” Breschel told VeloNews.

He returned to Bjarne Riis’ team at the end of 2012, after two years abroad in The Netherlands with Rabobank. In that time, he suffered.

A knee injury delayed his preparations ahead of the 2011 season. It eventually forced him to nix his classics plan and head into the operating room. He crashed again in the Vuelta a España, breaking four fingers in his left hand; the injuries forced him out of his home world championships in Copenhagen.

With a proper preparation, Breschel returned last year and placed third in Ghent-Wevelgem and ninth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The results showed progress and Breschel, for the first time in a long time, said after the former that he felt good and had prepared as well as possible.

Now back with Saxo Bank, the hope is that Breschel will be able to match or better his previous rides. He finished sixth in De Ronde in 2009. In 2010, he won Dwars door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders) and helped Fabian Cancellara to his Ronde trophy.

“I don’t know,” Breschel said when pressed on the comeback idea. “I made a few results in the classics [with Rabobank]. I didn’t feel I missed anything, but of course I want to be better than I was before my knee injury.

“I missed a long and important period with the knee injury because I couldn’t train, I couldn’t do the races, anything. That was a long time I was out. I was struggling even longer to come back and find great shape again. It was a new team and a lot of new guys… It was different. The knee problems kind of fucked it up.”

Breschel debuted this season at the Tours of Qatar and Oman. He laughed a lot. He spoke in Danish with the staff members and in English with the foreigners like Alberto Contador.

“It is kind of like that home feeling,” he said.

Breschel joined Riis and Saxo as a 20-year-old in 2005, when the team was known as CSC.

“I know all the guys and all the staff, I know their philosophy and how all the guys work, so nothing is new to me,” he said. “There are a few new guys of course, but, yeah, then again, after six years in Saxo Bank I felt like I wanted to try something new. I’m super happy for the two years in Rabobank.”

Breschel has been in Corsica with Saxo this month, for a training camp and so the team could familiarize itself with the opening stages of the Tour de France. He’ll skip this weekend’s opening classics and will return to racing with Paris-Nice, March 3 to 10. The French race drops him off at the door of the classics: Milano-Sanremo, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, De Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.

“My dream is to win Flanders,” he said. “I want to be on target from Sanremo until Roubaix [March 17 to April 7], but Flanders is the big goal.”