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Breschel calls Quick Step's bluff, solos to victory

Laura Weislo

Danish champion foils the favorites

Danish champion Matti Breschel scored an important victory for his Saxo Bank team, riding away solo from a group of favourites including Quick Step's Tom Boonen and then holding off the chase to the line.

The 25-year-old underscored the significance of the win even though the race is a relatively minor event compared to the upcoming Spring Classics.

"To me, it's very important and for the team also. We only have a few wins this season, and the Classics have started. For me and for the team, we needed this for the morale."

Breschel was part of an elite group which brought back two escape groups after the cluster of climbs which came inside the final 40km. With teammate Fabian Cancellara and previous escapee Anders Lund to help, the Saxo Bank team had a decided advantage over Quick Step who had only Boonen and Maarten Wynants.

Their group had 25 seconds over a larger chasing peloton, and Breschel slipped away off the front on the Tiegemberg while the rest of the riders played cat and mouse, with few riders willing or able to work.

"We knew that we had to stay in front there, and we knew that it was me and Fabian - and then Fabian came to me and said he'd do this for me, just sit on my wheel. I didn't really attack, just went easy away, and I got the gap."

Once clear, Breschel faced a strong challenge from the attacking Frenchman Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) who had been a frequent aggressor. He pulled away Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Niki Terpsra (Milram), but the trio could not close the gap to the flying Dane.

"I was dying at the end, had a little cramping, but I had Torsten [Schmidt, sports director] on the radio and he gave me the confidence to believe I could go all the way. . I tried as hard as possible, and yeah - I won!"

Breschel will be a strong ally for Cancellara, who will be the team's undisputed captain for the Classics. He has no problem being a back-up to his Swiss teammate. "There's no problem at all  - we're good friends, and we communicate well. It's always good to have more than one card on hand - that's how you win races nowadays as long as you're loyal to each other."

How it unfolded

The 65th running of the Dwars door Vlaanderen set off under decidedly improved weather conditions over the last Belgian races. During the rapid first 120km, the peloton stayed mostly together, saving its energies for the bergs which would pepper the last half of the course.

The first of the climbs, the Kattenberg, came at kilometre 108 and did not force any selections, but by the Berendries with 78km to go, a group of four managed to wrestle themselves clear of the bunch.

Gregory Habeaux (Verandas Willems), Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras), Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) and Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) would stay clear for 50 kilometres over some of the toughest terrain that Flanders has to offer.

Their demise began when attacks from the peloton started with RadioShack's Markel Irizar and Andy Cappelle (Verandas Willems) with 51km to go. The attack did not last, but it provided a launching pad for Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Chainel to counter .

The attack pulled away a large group while most of the favourites decided to sit out the move and wait for the cluster of climbs which came with 40km to go to make a selection.

The group ahead was too big to stay away, although they managed to pull out a minute or so over the group with Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara over the coming kilometres.

The Oude Kwaremont at 35km to go provided a major selection across the board: it split the lead group, with Van Vooren and Mondory dropping Zen and Habeaux for good, while behind both the large chase group and the peloton fractured on the cobbled berg. With two more climbs in the next two kilometres, the action began to intensify.

After the Patersberg the chase group was down to just eight riders: William Bonnet and Chainel (Bbox), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), Niki Terpstra (Milram), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Fabio Felline (Footon Servetto) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

The climbs had also split up the peloton behind, leaving a group of just 28 riders chasing the two groups ahead.

Fabian Cancellara set a brisk tempo to pull the groups together as the roads leveled out, succeeding in bringing back both the group of eight and the two leaders up the road. But the Swiss champion wasn't happy with the work that the rest of the group was contributing as he tried to keep them clear of the chasing peloton.

With 23km to go, Cancellara sat up to scold his companions for failing to work, and while he lectured them his teammate Matti Breschel slowly rode off the front in a bit of a gamble: the team was clearly saving him for the sprint, but he didn't fancy his chances against the likes of Boonen.

He quickly built up a lead of 20 seconds as the group argued over who should work. Chainel was having none of it and attacked to go after the Danish champion.

Niki Terpstra and Bjorn Leukemans also went after him, but neither would see the Dane before the finish line. The chasing peloton nearly caught the three chasers just before the line, but Breschel was still a few seconds clear and was able to celebrate his victory with a long two-armed salute.

Leukemans was able to nip in ahead of Terpstra to take second on the day, and Chainel held on to finish fourth.

Full Results
1 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank 4:49:37  
2 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:00:07  
3 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram    
4 Steve Chainel (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
5 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
6 Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
7 Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
8 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
9 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha    
10 William Bonnet (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
11 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
12 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank    
13 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam    
14 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam    
15 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
16 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank    
17 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
18 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
19 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
20 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step    
21 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia    
22 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
23 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
24 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank    
25 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team Radioshack    
26 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam 0:00:18  
27 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:24  
28 Fabio Felline (Ita) Footon-Servetto 0:00:52  
29 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:00  
30 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team Radioshack    
31 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team Radioshack    
32 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
33 Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia    
34 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia    
35 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank    
36 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
37 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
38 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram 0:01:22  
39 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
40 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
41 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
42 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
43 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step    
44 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Verandas Willems 0:04:22  
45 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
46 Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
47 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
48 Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam    
49 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha    
50 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team Radioshack    
51 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
52 David Garcia Da Pena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia    
53 Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team HTC - Columbia    
54 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Palmans - Cras    
55 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Team Milram    
56 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram    
57 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack    
58 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano    
59 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems    
60 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
61 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia    
62 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram    
63 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram    
64 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
65 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step    
66 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step    
67 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
68 Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
69 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam    
70 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
71 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
72 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank    
73 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
74 Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
75 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
76 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
77 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly    
78 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
79 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack    
80 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step    
81 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank    
82 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia    
83 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
84 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step    
85 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank    
86 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank    
87 Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
88 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank    
89 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank    
90 Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
91 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
92 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
93 Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervélo TestTeam    
94 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
95 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha    
96 Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team Katusha    
97 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack    
98 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
99 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
100 Dominic Klemme (Ger) Team Saxo Bank    
101 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:40  
102 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
103 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
104 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
105 Vidal Celis Zabala (Spa) Footon-Servetto 0:08:11  
106 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
107 Gustavo Dominguez Lemos (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia    
108 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux    
109 Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
110 Iban Mayoz Echeverria (Spa) Footon-Servetto 0:09:15  
111 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
112 Francisco Jose Pacheco Torres (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia    
113 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Team HTC - Columbia    
114 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Team Katusha    
115 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram    
116 Yohann Gene (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
117 Gustavo Rodriguez Iglesias (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia    
118 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Verandas Willems    
119 Tom Van Becelaere (Bel) Palmans - Cras    
120 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha    
121 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
122 Fuyu Li (Chn) Team Radioshack    
123 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
124 Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Verandas Willems    
125 Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
126 Reinier Honig (Ned) Acqua & Sapone