Matti Breschel (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) won the stage in a bunch sprint ahead of teammate Marko Kump and Moreno Hofland (Team Belkin)
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Dane sets new stage victory tally, equals days in yellow mark
There's no place like home and for Matti Breschel (Saxo-Tinkoff) indeed there's no place like racing on home roads at the Tour of Denmark. Prior to contesting this year's edition of his national Tour, the 28-year-old Dane hadn't won since August of 2012 in stage 3 at the Vuelta a Burgos, but his fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better as he's won back-to-back in yesterday's stage 2 and today's stage 3, the event's queen stage.
Yesterday's victory was the sixth stage win of Breschel's career at the Tour of Denmark, and moved him out of a three-way tie with Jesper Skibby and Nicola Minali as the previous stage win record holders at five apiece. For good measure, Breschel pushed his career Tour of Denmark stage tally to seven today.
As an additional bonus, following today's victory in the 200km stage from Sønderborg to Vejle, Breschel jumped from fourth to first on general classification and donned the leader's yellow jersey with three stages remaining.
"Everything went smooth for Matti," said Breschel's directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen of his victory in the queen stage. "He really has great power right now and seems impossible to drop, and as he has shown at a number of occasions, he's explosive in a finale like this."
The queen stage was hilly throughout plus featured a steep climb of 21 percent on the 5.6km finishing circuit, completed three times.
"This stage has been his goal for a long time and when he won yesterday's stage, it was a bonus for him," said Michaelsen. "It set free a lot of pressure and new energy that he could use today."
As Breschel's no stranger to winning stages at the Tour of Denmark, he's also now worn the leader's jersey each of the six times he's contested the race in his career - five straight years from 2007 through 2011 followed by the current 2013 edition (Breschel rode the Vuelta a Espana in 2012, which overlapped with the Tour of Denmark). When he starts stage four on Saturday morning he'll equal Rolf Sørensen's record of 11 days in the Tour of Denmark's yellow jersey.
To date, however, Breschel's best career finish has been third, earned in his Tour of Denmark debut in 2007. He's also placed fifth overall on three other occasions.
Can this be the year Breschel wins overall? There are three stages remaining over the final two days, with Saturday featuring a 105km road stage in the morning followed by a 12.1km individual time trial in the afternoon. The likely spoiler appears to be Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) who holds second overall, just six seconds in arrears of Breschel. Bak is a powerhouse against the clock and has won the Danish time trial championship three times plus has been part of squads which have won Grand Tour team time trial stages on three different occasions.
"He leads with six seconds to Bak and I'm not sure that's enough to maintain the lead after the time trial so we'll see what we can do on tomorrow morning's stage," said Michaelsen.