Matti Breschel of Team CSC Saxo Bank finally sees his career on the up-and-up, with a bronze medal in the World Championships topping off a strong year. The 24 year-old Dane collected five victories in total during 2008, including a stage win in the Vuelta a España.
"I've gained a lot of confidence and gotten a great moral boost from this," he said on the team's website. He finished behind an Italian one-two in Varese, Italy, after doing a huge effort in hopes the group would finish in a sprint.
In the weeks leading up to Worlds, he won the final stage of the Vuelta a España in Madrid. It made up for his second place in the 17th stage, when Quick Step's Wouter Weylandt threw his bike over the finish line just ahead of him.
The results were all the more spectacular in light of Breschel's medical history. Crashes and serious injuries have marked his four-year professional career. He was on the verge of winning the overall title in the 2006 Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen when he crashed in the sprint of the final stage. He came away from that one with fractured vertebrae, a concussion and short-term memory loss, all of which combined to keep him off the bike for several months.
Breschel took his first two victories in 2007, winning the first stage of the Post Danmark Rundt which gave him the leader's jersey for three stages, and later winning stage two of the Tour of Ireland.
This season he overcame early-season knee problems. "I know so much more about what it takes to get great results – both as far as preparation goes and also during the season. I guess I've proved to myself that I do have what it takes to get results," he said.
He looks ahead to his favourite races, the Spring Classics, where he thinks he has a good chance to take some people by surprise. "Riders like [teammates] Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady are still the biggest names in the cobble stone classics so I don't think people will be taking too much notice of me. This means I might have to work that much harder, but it might also be to my advantage in certain situations." (SW)