Matti Breschel is back on the bike and competing again after an injury stricken 2011. The Danish ride finished the Volta ao Algarve last week, picking up two top-ten placings and escaping into the key break on the penultimate stage.
Although he admits he’s still not on top form, it’s a thoroughly different Breschel to the one that was hampered by a stop-start season last year.
Breschel was signed by Rabobank last season to lead the Dutch team in the Spring Classics, but he ended up missing virtually the whole early part of the year with knee problems and subsequent surgery.
He recovered in time for the Vuelta a Espana with an eye on competing at his home Worlds in Copenhagen, but a crash forced him to abandon in Spain after just week of racing. On top of that he had to undergo surgery on his hand, which subsequently ended his season.
“It actually went better than expected and it was a long time since I did a stage race," Breschel told Cyclingnews about Algarve. "On the second last stage I spent the whole day in a breakaway and got some good training in and few placings before the big races start in the coming weeks.
“2011 was a really difficult year but the team supported me 100 per cent and they were there for me. It wasn’t nice being injured. I couldn’t do anything but they supported me and they know what I’m worth and what I’m capable of.”
His long road to recovery did take its toll. The lack of fitness and racing created a constant sense of frustration for the rider who at the start of 2010 looked on the cusp of breaking through as a genuine Classics contender.
“I had to take five weeks off after the Vuelta and then had another short break in November. From there I started to train again with the team at the camp and then I new that I’d moved on and made a recovery. I’m still taking really good care of myself but it was difficult at times. I was having all these knee pains but it’s not always a problem with the knees, that’s just where the pain shows up. It can be the back or ankle.”
Now fit, Breschel is eager to make the most of his talents once again. He’s well aware of the pressure on his shoulders but will be building up his top-end form as the Classics reach a crescendo in March and April. This coming weekend he will compete in the double header: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite on the Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the following day.
“I’m pretty sure that the pressure is there, from the team and of course from myself but I’m pretty cool and calm. The form is coming. I did my homework and I had a really good winter and of course I’ve had a few results now and that’s good for morale ahead of Het Volk. I’m just going to let the races come to me."
“I’m doing both races next weekend but I’m not quite where I want to be. I’m still a few weeks away from top form. Then I’ll do Tirreno, Sanremo and then the Classics, apart from Roubaix.”