Matti Breschel returned to training this week after his knee surgery last year and while he admits the injury has set his preparations back he will take part in the 2011 Classics season.
"For sure I'm going to be there [the Classics], but whether I'm going to be in the sort of shape I was in last year, I don't know," he told Cyclingnews. "For the moment I'm not thinking about it so much, I just want to get back and be 100 per cent. Of course, I can't rush it too much and just have to take the time to recover."
Breschel was one of the stand-out performers of last year's Classics, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen - Waregem and forming part of the all-conquering Saxo Bank ensemble. Like many of the riders in that group, Breschel has found his way to a new team and his new Rabobank teammates for training camp in Almería, Spain, this week.
The 26-year-old Dane admitted to Cyclingnews that the camp was the first consistent period of riding since he underwent surgery on his left knee in November. Although the surgery has delayed his preparation for the new year, both he and his new team are taking a patient approach to his recovery.
"It's going okay, it's going the right way. I'm still not fully recovered. I don't have pain or anything, but I'm just trying to find my shape again. It take some time and I'm a little bit behind [other riders] so I wasn't riding that much with the other guys this week," he said.
Despite being forced to remain off his bike for two months, Breschel has been able to sketch out the start of his season in consultation with his team management. While his recovery and condition will dictate his season start date, he indicated that he may return to competition as soon as the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, in three weeks time.
He will return to Spain from his base in Italy in the next week to continue his preparation, while his teammates take part in the four-day Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca.
"I'm still building up and I have to be realistic. It's going to take some time, but for the moment I just trying to recover and get some shape back again," he said. "At the moment I think I'll skip the races on Mallorca, but we're going to follow the plan and take it step-by-step. I think I'm going to join them on Mallorca, but I think I'll only be there for training."
The journey to Mallorca next week will also give him opportunity to get to know his new colleagues. The timing of Breschel's knee surgery had also limited the amount of time he had been able to spend with his teammates prior to this week.
"I met them just after the season last year but his was really the first get together," said Breschel. "It was really good; they're a bunch of cool guys. I knew a lot of them before I came to the team. The atmosphere is good; really calm."