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Matti Breschel (Rabobank)
Former Saxo Bank teammates motivated for the challenge
Breschel opted to skip Dwars Door Vlaanderen, a race he won in 2010, in order to focus his energies on the two WorldTour races this weekend, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.
“There are going to be two really hard races now and it would be difficult to do Dwars Door Vlaanderen full gas and still be 100% for this and Wevelgem,” he said.
With 13 hellingen on the menu on Friday, positioning will be of the essence, particularly on the first climb, the Muur Van Geraardsbergen shortly before the midway point.
“You’re going to have to be on the front on Geraardsbergen. Maybe you’re not going to win the race but you can lose the race there,” he warned. “It’s always important to stay in the front on these Belgian races.”
Karsten Kroon returns to Saxo Bank after two crash-afflicted seasons with BMC, and the Dutchman is pleased to back under the management of Bjarne Riis, with home he enjoyed the best years of his career between 2006 and 2009.
“From the 30 original riders on Saxo Bank when I left three years ago, only seven are left so it’s a totally different group but the mentality and the staff are still the same,” Kroon said.
He leads the Saxo Bank team in the absence of Tour of Flanders champion Nick Nuyens, who misses the classics after fracturing a hip at Paris-Nice. “It’s a shame not only for Nick and the team but also for me,” he said. “In the classics it’s a big advantage if you have a few strong guys.”