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Breschel calls Quick Step's bluff, solos to victory

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
1Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank4:49:37
2Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:07
3Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram
4Steve Chainel (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
5Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
6Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
7Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
8Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano
9Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha
10William Bonnet (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
11Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
12Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank
13Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
14Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
15Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
16Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank
17Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française Des Jeux
18Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
19Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
20Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
21Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia
22Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano
23Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
24Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank
25Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team Radioshack
26Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam0:00:18
27Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team0:00:24
28Fabio Felline (Ita) Footon-Servetto0:00:52
29Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:00
30Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team Radioshack
31Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team Radioshack
32Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
33Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia
34Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team HTC - Columbia
35Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank
36Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank
37Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
38Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram0:01:22
39Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
40Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
41Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
42Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
43Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step
44Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Verandas Willems0:04:22
45Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
46Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
47Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
48Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervélo TestTeam
49Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
50Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team Radioshack
51Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
52David Garcia Da Pena (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
53Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team HTC - Columbia
54Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Palmans - Cras
55Wim De Vocht (Bel) Team Milram
56Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram
57Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack
58Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano
59Andy Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems
60Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
61Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia
62Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram
63Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram
64Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
65Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step
66Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step
67Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
68Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
69Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam
70Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
71Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
72Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank
73Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux
74Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
75Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
76Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
77Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly
78Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
79Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack
80Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
81Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank
82Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia
83Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
84Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step
85Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank
86Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank
87Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
88Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank
89Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
90Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
91Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling Team
92Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
93Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervélo TestTeam
94Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
95Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
96Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team Katusha
97Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack
98Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia
99Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
100Dominic Klemme (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
101Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:40
102Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano
103Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux
104Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
105Vidal Celis Zabala (Spa) Footon-Servetto0:08:11
106Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil - Shimano
107Gustavo Dominguez Lemos (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
108Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux
109Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
110Iban Mayoz Echeverria (Spa) Footon-Servetto0:09:15
111Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
112Francisco Jose Pacheco Torres (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
113Hayden Roulston (NZl) Team HTC - Columbia
114Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Team Katusha
115Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram
116Yohann Gene (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom
117Gustavo Rodriguez Iglesias (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
118James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Verandas Willems
119Tom Van Becelaere (Bel) Palmans - Cras
120Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha
121Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
122Fuyu Li (Chn) Team Radioshack
123Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
124Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Verandas Willems
125Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
126Reinier Honig (Ned) Acqua & Sapone

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Laura Weislo

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.

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