By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The winner in Philadelphia on Sunday, CSC's Matti Breschel, said it was the biggest win of his career. But considering what he had been through to get here, just being able to ride a bicycle was a victory in itself. Breschel crashed in March of 2006 when sprinting in the third stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. He and Robbie McEwen tangled, taking both to the ground with Breschel suffering the worst of it.
"I had a small fight in the sprint with Robbie McEwen. We both fell down and I broke my back, two vertebrae and hit my head pretty bad," said Breschel. "I was out for a couple of hours and woke up in the hospital and was lying there for two weeks.
"That was tough and really tough to come back, to rebuild the muscle around my back took a while. It was difficult [to return.] I had long weeks where I couldn't do anything but lay in my bed and think about life – if I could ever go on my bike again. It was tough mentally for sure!"
When asked if he is more hesitant about sprinting in a chaotic field sprint like the one at the end of Sunday's race, Breschel laughed, "Yes, you have to be really brave and be cool, and you need to have big elbows! You need to be fast, of course... and maybe a little bit crazy!"
Breschel said that this win was his biggest so far, due in large part to the long history of the race. "I had some nice victories but this is the biggest, that is for sure. They know the race over here, there is a lot of prestige in the race and it used to be the American championship so they know Philadelphia."
The 23 year-old Dane was also asked about the process of finding a new sponsor for 2009, as CSC announced it will not renew its title sponsorship.
"We just ride as good as possible and we are pretty confident [in finding a new sponsor.] You can never be too sure but I hope [Bjarne Riis] finds a new sponsor but I am confident [he will.]"