He may have been ruled out of the Spring Classics with injury but Matti Breschel (Rabobank) has kept a watchful eye over his rivals ahead of Sunday's Tour of Flanders.
The 26-year-old has missed most of this season but like many within cycling has pointed to last year's podium of Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Tom Boonen as the men most likely for Flanders but singled out his former teammate Cancellara as the top favourite.
"I expect a hard race but we've seen all the favourites already in the build up races show their form. Gilbert, Cancellara, and Boonen, who was surprisingly strong in Gent-Wevelgem are the guys to watch. I would have to put Fabian ahead of the rest though. He's the best one-day rider in the world and if you give him ten meters you're never going to catch him back," Breschel told Cyclingnews.
Asked if Cancellara had a weakness, Breschel struggled to find answer but finally pointed to the Swiss rider's sprint and gave his own insight into how he would try and beat him.
"Does he have a weakness? Not when he's that good. He has the confidence and the morale to back his power up. He can have some bad luck but otherwise he's the best."
"I would just try following and see what he can do. It's all about hiding but still being near the front. That's what makes it so stressful but you have to be there when the top riders hit the Oude Kwaremont."
"Cancellara has a strong team and it's all for Fabian this year. The last few years they've played different cards but now it's all for him. He's so good at using his teammates and getting the most out of them so he's never in the wind or wasting injury. As for a weakness you have to look at his sprint. That's where someone like Boonen has the edge. There's just the small matter of staying with him the entire race."
"The most important section is from the Oude Kwaremont. From there the race starts and if you're off the pace and just off the front of the leaders then you'll never make it back to them. There'll be crashes and the roads are so small and narrow."
Breschel is still some way off making a comeback after undergoing another knee operation last month. Although out of the Classics this season he has already targeted several objectives for later in the season, including a crack at the Worlds, where he has finished on the podium twice. The race will take place in his native Denmark this year too, which has given him extra motivation.
"The comeback is going well. I'm going to the gym now and doing exercises and hopefully I'll be on the bike again next week, next Sunday perhaps, and we'll see how things are with the knee. We've not put a date on returning to racing yet and I have to take it step by step," he said.
"The Worlds is critical for me but otherwise I'll try to be ready for the Tour of California, Tour de Suisse and then maybe the Tour de France team."
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