By Daniel Benson in Wevelgem
Saxo Bank's Lars Michaelsen was pleased with the performances of both Matti Breschel and Matt Goss, with the latter taking third place in his first Gent-Wevelgem.
With cross-winds and high profile punctures to Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish playing major factors in the race, the Danish directeur sportif, and 1995 winner of the race, had stressed to his riders the importance of riding at the front in the early stages. "If you don't go into a race like this well prepared – and a lot of teams didn't go in with the right plans – then you pay the price," Michaelsen said from team bus.
"The plan from the start was to keep our riders at the front and I felt happy that we did that in the first half of the race. Unfortunately after the split Fabian Cancellara punctured when he was in front group, so we missed having one of riders out in the lead."
However, Breschel and Goss played key roles in the major escape of the day, and the duo worked for each other in helping to set the pace each time up the Kemmelberg. On the final ascent of the climb Goss moved to the front in a bid to reign in the lone leader, Aleksandr Kuschynski. The Australian was unable to bridge the gap and left the door open for eventual winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen, to charge across.
"They were both really motivated and had great ambitions to do well. You could see that and I can't fault their tactical play. Boasson Hagen was maybe too strong but there's not much you can do in that situation. There's no shame in that and I think the race had the right winner."
With Kuschynski and Boasson Hagen away, Goss was able to counter with Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) and Andreas Klier (Cervélo TestTeam), before kicking for the line and taking the final podium place.
Both Goss and Breschel will line-up for this Sunday's Paris Roubaix. It will be Goss's first attempt at the race.