COPENHAGEN (VN) — Matti Breschel will be on the wrong side of the fences for Sunday’s elite men’s road race after injuries sidelined him for a rare chance to race for the rainbow jersey on home roads.
Breschel, last year’s silver medalist, saw his worlds dreams dashed in an instant when he crashed hard in the neutral start zone of stage 6 in Úbeda in the Vuelta a España.
The Dane clipped a rock or a pothole, and took the brunt of the fall on his face, knees and hands, breaking four fingers in his left hand.
“It was not easy to decide not to race. It’s in Denmark, the last thing I wanted to do was to miss it,” Breschel told VeloNews on Wednesday from Copenhagen’s central square. “I live in Italy during the season, but I have an apartment just 800 meters from here. This is where I am from. My dream was to race for the rainbow.”
Breschel, 27, had already been fighting through an injury-plagued 2011 campaign, undergoing knee surgery and missing some of the most important dates of the year when he was finally regaining fitness during the Vuelta.
The Rabobank rider was confident he would be ready to lead the Danish team at the worlds, but the crash saw his front wheel swept out from under him.
“I don’t know what happened. It happened so fast. It was still in the neutral start. We were going like 50kph, just one second to another there, I was just lying there on the ground. I hit the asphalt really hard,” he said. “I think I hit a rock or stone. It took the front wheel out and I fell down onto my face. All four fingers in my left hand were broken, and my knees, face were cut.”
Breschel tried to resume training, but he missed two weeks off the bike right in a critical training period ahead of the long-distance road race.
With time running out, he was forced to pull the plug on the one day that he’s been training and preparing for over the past several seasons.
“I tried to come back, I’ve been on the bike, but I couldn’t train properly on the road. It was a pretty tough decision,” he said. “I was off the bike two weeks. Then it was just not realistic. It didn’t make sense just to start. We are only six guys in the Danish team. I didn’t want to take a spot from another guy, just so I could start and maybe not finish.”
Breschel says his season is over and he hopes to have the bad luck in the rear-view mirror going into next year’s spring classics campaign.
“It will be hard to watch the race Sunday, but I will be there,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s a harder course than people think it is. I think it will be a good race, especially if it’s windy and rainy. It’s too bad I cannot be there.”