Matti Breschel will aim to put aside his torrid run of bad luck at the Classics when he spearheads Saxo Bank's challenge at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The 25-year-old will act as co-captain of the Danish squad, alongside Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara.
"Hopefully everyone on the team is there after the Arenberg so that we can work to split up the peloton. Then hopefully me and Fabian can be in the final group together and then we'll have to see what's going on from there," he told Cyclingnews after making a planned early withdrawal from Scheldeprijs.
On Wendesday, Breschel returned to the Saxo Bank team bus after 172 kilometres of the mid-week semi-Classic. The Danish national road champion explained that his abandon was part of a strategy to start in Compiègne on Sunday morning with what he hopes will be race-winning shape.
"I didn't know [the cobbles at Scheldeprijs], it's the first time I've done this race. It was pretty stressful – it was a fast race, and left-right all the time," he said.
"Pulling out was part of the plan. I feel alright and I don’t feel I need to force anything. The form is there and on Thursday we'll go to check out the parcours for Roubaix. We'll get a good ride there and that should be enough."
With his 2010 Classics campaign interrupted by a run of mechanical incidents, Breschel is looking forward to having better luck on Sunday. Bitter memories of a puncture at Gent-Wevelgem and a badly executed bike change at Flanders are still raw in his mind, but Breschel is keen to channel that frustration towards the pavé of Roubaix.
"I am feeling relaxed. I have a lot of anger now after Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem and I'm trying to get it out with my legs, to use it as a positive," he said. "Yeah, I have to put Flanders behind me. All the anger, I need to put it in my legs, but that race, I have to put it behind me - that was really bad luck."
One of the men Breschel will rely upon on Sunday, Baden Cooke, experienced his own moment of misfortune at Scheldeprijs when he crashed. Despite taking some skin off his left knee, the Australian is still expected to line-up in France this weekend.
"He's okay, he'll be alright for this weekend, he's just annoyed," said Breschel. "We were actually talking about him crashing too much and he said, 'ah, I hope I don't crash today', and then boom, he went down. He didn't seem to see the wheel [move] in front of him and he went down pretty hard, but he's okay."
Breschel's co-captain for Paris-Roubaix, Cancellara, also withdrew from Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. The Swiss climbed off his bike inside the last ten kilometres, having remained well clear of any danger as he patrolled the rear of the peloton throughout the race. With Saxo Bank's Classics squad close to full strength for the 'Queen of the Classics', Breschel said the team is primed for yet another strong spring performance.
"Everything's alright for this weekend, and the same for Fabian. He didn't know whether maybe he should stop or keep going in the race [Scheldeprijs]," said Breschel. "We're kinda mentally in Roubaix already, and that goes for the whole team."