Durbo's double delight - Luke Durbridge claims Australian road crown
Western Australia’s Luke Durbridge has pulled off a herculean in the Elite Men’s road race at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships to claim his second green and gold jersey in five days, becoming the first male in the professional era to win the time trial and the road race.
The 21-year-old powered to victory after sitting in the leading group for the entire 195.6 kilometres around the new circuit which included three longer, flatter, 27.7km loops before 11 climbs up the traditional 10.2 km Mt Buninyong course, just outside of Ballarat.
The Orica GreenEDGE rider dropped the last remaining breakaway rider, Bernie Sulzberger (TAS), to solo to victory over the final 20 kilometres.
“This is one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” said Durbridge after he crossed the finish line.
“To know I can wear the national colours in both events in Europe is amazing — I just can’t believe it,” said Durbridge, referring to his historic double after winning Wednesday’s Time Trial in Ballarat.
Durbridge crossed the line 1:04 seconds ahead of teammate Michael Matthews (ACT) who clinched a bunch sprint for silver.
Team Garmin-Sharp rider Steel von Hoff (VIC) claimed the bronze medal.
Durbridge’s time trial-road race quinella makes him the first rider to do so in the professional era.
“I think this is my first road race I’ve won in three years. It’s very special for me and the Orica GreenEDGE team,” Durbridge noted. “I couldn’t have done it without my team mates covering all the moves back in the peloton.
“I was in significant pain on the last lap but the crowd on the climb was amazing, and the cowbells, people running next to you. It was just like something you’ve always dreamed of.
“It was something like a Tour de France stage when you see them grinding up the climb, and as a big guy you don’t necessarily get that opportunity, but I was enjoying the moment up there.”
Silver medallist Matthews said he “couldn’t be happier” for his teammate.
“Luke is unbelievable, I’ve been rooming with him all week and we’ve been motivating each other," said Matthews.
“We know we’re both going well and it was just a matter of who would get on the top of the podium.
“I’m really happy with silver. I have never had this much preparation coming into nationals so I didn’t know my form would be as good as it is,” said the time trial bronze medallist.
Third-place getter von Hoff said he was satisfied with his race.
“When Durbo dropped both Sulzberger and Shaw on the climb towards the end I knew I was in trouble," confessed von Hoff.
“My teammates came to the front of the bunch but Durbo was just too strong and Michael Matthews was too quick.
“My form is definitely getting a lot better and after a podium here I am looking forward to a good year of racing,” Von hoff concluded.
The larger loops saw a break of seven riders established in the early going including Durbridge, Sulzberger (TAS), Pat Shaw (VIC) and Blair Windsor (NSW).
The group gained a whopping eight minute lead before race officials threatened the peloton with elimination should it fall more than 10 minutes behind the leaders (as per official race regulations), ensuring the lead and tail of the race would not touch.
Riders responded, halving the gap to four minutes before the break upped the tempo, maintaining a five minute gap for most of the race.
Daniel Bonello (NSW) and Andrew Crawley (NSW) made a bold attack at the 93km mark, earning a minute lead on the peloton before being absorbed by the bunch.
With 40kms left to race, it was Jack Bobridge (SA) who sparked the peloton into action after launching a solo move which followed by Baden Cooke (VIC), before the pair both faded.
However it was the move that sparked the bunch to life, but up the road where Durbridge’s pace had shelved all riders in the break bar Sulzberger and Shaw.
A strong group of six managed to establish itself including ACT’s Mathew Hayman, Simon Clarke (VIC), Rohan Dennis (SA) and Lachlan Norris (VIC) yet with 20kms to go it was Durbridge out on his own with the thinned peloton left to race for minor placings.
“I got really nervous towards the end because Bernie Sulzberger is faster than me in a sprint and so is Pat Shaw,” said Durbridge.
"I just rode as hard as I could up the climb and managed to get rid of Pat, and then I knew I was going to have to do it again for Bernie. Once I was on my own it was just a time trial to finish."
Of the 141 starters for Australia’s Greatest One Day Race, 51 completed the full 14 laps.
Following his superb ride in the men's road race in which he was in the leading group for 190km of the 195km race, Tasmania's Bernard Sulzberger was named in the UniSA-Australia team for the Santos Tour Down Under.
Under 23 road race champion Jordan Kerby of Queensland was also named following his superb performance at the Championships and also his victory in the Herald Sun Tour.
The third and final rider named was Herald Sun Tour champion Calvin Watson of Victoria.
The Mars 2013 Cycling Australia Road National Championships where held in Ballarat and Buninyong from January 9 – 13.