Danish rider Matti Breschel (Rabobank) was able to turn around his unsatisfying ride from E3-Prijs Harelbeke during Sunday's one-day classic Gent-Wevelgem. After taking the initiative on the final ascent of the steep cobbled Kemmelberg, the Dane had enough left in his tank to follow the decisive moves in front. Just like on Friday, Breschel was part of the group that sprinted for the victory but in contrast to the sprint in Harelbeke things went much better for Breschel as he eventually cracked the podium, finishing third behind winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Right after crossing the line in sunny Wevelgem Breschel paid his respect to winner Boonen.
"I felt good today. Boonen… he's the fastest right now, that's for sure," Breschel said while coughing away the sprint efforts and working his way through the crowds to the Gent-Wevelgem podium. Breschel was happy, not particularly about his good sprint but about his overall performance. "I just found the legs in general but it's one week too late," Breschel said. The Dane referred to Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday and the E3-Prijs Harelbeke on Friday.
The ascent from Breschel on the Kemmelberg was impressive. He led the peloton on the first section with Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) on his wheel but the Italian was unable to keep up with the man from Ballerup, much to his delight. "I couldn't go slower," Breschel joked. After reaching the top of the Kemmelberg there was a breakaway attempt from Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Steve Chainel (FDJ) in which Breschel moved along but they were reeled back in. A little later Sagan and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) accelerated. Their attack made the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team from Boonen work thus allowing few riders to bridge back up with the lead group. Breschel was able to save his legs in the final kilometers and ride a good sprint, much in contrast to his lacklustre sprint in Harelbeke on Friday.
"Finally I felt really good, especially compared to Harelbeke. I wasn't myself there. I made too many mistakes. Today the legs were there so I'm glad. I'm happy with the third place. I got beaten by two guys who – at the moment – are better than me so I'm satisfied."
When asked about his sprint in Wevelgem it was clear that most riders felt like Freire and Boonen were the men to beat. "Even though it wasn't a big bunch sprint it was really hectic. Everybody wanted to be on the wheel of Oscar Freire and Boonen. I tried to jump from one to the other. I was a little bit on Boasson Hagen and Sagan," Breschel said. Behind his back Boasson Hagen got into touch with José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar) and several riders hit the deck. "I didn't see or hear anything."
Regarding his plans and ambitions for the upcoming races Breschel pointed out that he's skipping the pavé classic Paris-Roubaix to focus on the Amstel Gold Race, a home race in The Netherlands for his Rabobank team.
"For sure I'm not going to do Roubaix. I'm going to go for Amstel and try out for Liège also. Amstel is a big goal for me this year. Flanders is my biggest goal but a lot of guys have to be beaten, that's for sure."