Plagued by injury since he made the switch from Saxo Bank to Rabobank in the off-season, Matti Breschel came close to his first win in almost twelve months on the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark.
The Dane has not tasted victory since stage three of the same race in 2010, and in spite of a lead-out from teammate Oscar Freire, he was edged out by Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) in the uphill sprint in Esbjerg on Wednesday.
“I would have liked to have won today,” Breschel told feltet.dk. “I lost the sprint, and it’s my own fault. I made a small mistake in the end, which was costly.”
In spite of his disappointment, Breschel was keen to pay tribute to the support he received from his Rabobank squad.
“I had all the help I needed from the team, who rode all day, with Oscar Freire leading out the sprint for me,” he said. “So naturally, I am a little sad that I couldn’t get my first win for the team.”
While Breschel will be smarting to have missed out on the first yellow jersey of his home tour, he gained ground on some of the other contenders for overall victory in the finale. Chief among them was triple champion Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek). With a crosswind splitting the peloton in the final 40km, he suffered a puncture at the most inopportune moment and came home 1:34 behind.
“This is certainly a good start,” Breschel admitted, but warned that those early gains could just as easily be wiped out. “There is a still a long way to go and there may also be side winds on Thursday, and a hundred thousand things could happen. I think Jakob had a puncture, but that could happen to me or to anyone.”
Breschel explained that he had foreseen the dangerous crosswinds on the opening day and positioned himself accordingly thanks to some prior experience of racing along the western coast of the Jutland Peninsula.
“I knew the area from previous Danish championships and the Tour of Denmark,” Breschel said. “If you did a little bit of research, you would have known that there would be a crosswind after Ribe. Of course we talked about it, but we weren’t the ones who created the split.”