Despite having to pull out of the final stage of the Tour of Demark through illness, Matti Breschel (Rabobank) is confident his form is heading in the right direction in time for the World championships at the end of September.
The Dane has missed the majority of the season after undergoing two separate knee operations. He looked to be closing in on his best form at his home Tour, running close to victory on two stages. However illness struck before the penultimate stage.
"I came down with the flu on the morning of the final stage. I had a fever and I was being sick. I really wanted to do the stage, it was in my home town and all my friends and family were there,” Breschel told Cyclingnews.
His problems also meant that Breschel missed out on the chance to race on this year’s World Championship course, which was covered by the peloton on the final day.
“They did one lap but that’s not a problem, I’ve done it 30 times already. I have to keep positive though. It’s better to be sick now rather than in three weeks,” he said.
Building for the World Championships
Despite his troubles, Breschel is happy with how his strength and speed are progressing. His season looked in tatters back in April when he was forced to miss the Classics but his second operation, coupled with two months of pain-free training have allowed him to build up towards the Worlds, a race in which he has twice placed on the podium.
“I’m definitely a lot happier. I was up there for a win on a few stages and my shape is good. I still need the extra two per cent to make a difference but I feel like I’m getting there. If I think back I’ve been away for a long, long time so to be up there and be one of the strongest was really nice. I enjoyed every minute of it,” he told Cyclingnews.
Once he has recovered from his bought of flu, Breschel will return to his base in Italy, before departing for the Vuelta that starts on August 20. While the majority of Worlds contenders use the Spanish grand tour for training, typically pulling out before the final week, Breschel aims to race all the way to Madrid as part of his preparation. A lack of serious racing days, coupled with his previous success of two finishes and one stage win - in Madrid – should inspire him.
“As we have Oscar (Freire) in the team, we might do the sprints for him. But hopefully I can be there for a stage or two. I will do the whole Vuelta. For me I think that’s the best. I know I didn’t do it last year but other years I did. It’s nice to keep the rhythm and even though the last week is hard there is a time trial and the final stage to Madrid that aren’t as hard.”
After Spain it will be full steam ahead towards the Worlds in Copenhagen where he will be looking to improve in his bronze and silver medals.
“I’m excited. Of course there will be pressure on me and the other Danish guys but I’m not nervous. I’m just happy to be back on a good level after some tough months. The only thing I can do now is stay focussed and believe in myself.”
“I don’t think the (home crowd) should expect anything from us until the last lap. We only have six guys so the pressure will be on the big nations. I don’t think we have the team for pulling the whole day. We’ll wait and wait.”
While Breschel certainly remains one of the challengers for the rainbow jersey, on a flat course he will be up against the worlds best sprinters and although he admits he is not amongst the best, he knows that after a gruelling race he will be one of the men to watch.
“I think the recipe for me is to wait for the sprint. It’s a sprinters race and while I know I’m not one of the fastest guys it’s going to be really hard. It’s going to be tricky and you’re going to have to take care of yourself all day and it’s going to be a hard sprint. After 280 kilometers you only get one punch so you have to make it count.”