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Luke Durbridge – Critérium du Dauphiné Prologue win

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Despite having the advantage of starting as last man in the Dauphiné’s 5.7 kilometre prologue time trial, Britain’s defending champion, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) couldn’t best the time set by 21 year-old world under 23 world time trial champion, Luke Durbridge (GreenEdge-Orica & Australia).

The young Australian was in the hot seat for 90 minutes before he could breathe a sigh of relief and savour his first World Tour win.

Durbridge came up through the well tested Aussie route of the national team pursuit squad.

He took a world junior team pursuit title on the way; as well as a world junior world individual time trial title and world junior madison victory (with Alex Carver) en route the world senior team pursuit title in Apeldoorn in 2011.

After finishing second in the U23 TT Worlds in Geelong in 2010 to Taylor Phinney, he climbed on the top step of the podium in Copenhagen last autumn.

This season has seen his meteoric progress continue; he beat Cameron Meyer and Michael Rogers to the Australian elite individual time trial title, won the TT and GC in the Circuit de la Sarthe and now is firmly on the World Tour stage.

Durbridge had time to talk to VeloVeritas soon after he’d pulled on the yellow jersey in Grenoble.

Luke Durbridge
Luke takes centre stage after a tremendous Prologue win. Photo©Sirotti.

Great ride Luke, congratulations; it must be very satisfying to beat a rider of Wiggins’ stature?

“It’s the biggest result of my short pro career.

“The course suited me with my track background; it was dead flat with two ‘U’ turns and three right hand bends, not to technical and pretty boring.

“I tried it out twice before I raced it, just to get a feel for the corners.”

Are you an ‘equipment guy?’

“Yeah, the mechanics hate me!

“I’m always experimenting with my position – handlebar angle and seat heights – to find my ideal position.

“I rode the Scott Plasma; it’s a really nice machine – I’ve been riding one in time trials for a few years – it’s what I won the Worlds on.

“I rode a Shimano c75 front and a PRO rear disc – they’re very rigid – and I used 54 x 11.”

Do you ride a race like that on watts or ‘feel?’

“I use the power meter to keep me in check, but today I hit a bump with two K to go and lost the read out – in a race like that it’s about hurting yourself – and I just drove to the line.

“I think that the SRM is very useful to ride to in a longer time trial, but over a short distance like that, it’s not so crucial.”

How do you manage to train for raw power like that but also maintain endurance?

“Because I’m at an early stage in my career, my endurance is still on the way up – but you have to focus on what you’re good at.

“That might mean you have to struggle through mountain stages or long road stages – but you have to play to your strengths and focus on them or you aren’t going to win.”

Luke Durbridge
Hammering it home. Photo©Sirotti.

You were in the ‘hot seat’ for 90 minutes?

“It was pretty stressful – but it’s better to be waiting than not waiting!”

Your first World Tour win, how does it feel?

“I’ve worked really hard in every time trial I’ve ridden, this year – learning a little more in each one and applying that in the next one.

“I’ve been getting better and better and today it all just came together for me.”

Was silver in Geelong the spur for gold in Copenhagen?

“I think so, I was unlucky with the weather in Geelong and I didn’t lose by much.

“So I was really motivated for Copenhagen, my family was there and it was a really special day where it all just came together.”

We really had to take notice of you after you won the Circuit de la Sarthe.

“That was my second race and I was fortunate to get the jersey and then we defended it to hold on to the GC.

“And then I rode Romandie and it was a reality check on hard it is at this level.

“But California was good and whilst I had a little bit of jet lag, the last couple of days I could feel my form coming back up.”

Did you expect more from De Panne, that final time trial would suit you?

“No, I wasn’t disappointed, I was seventh in my first big race – I was happy with that, those road stages are very hard.”

Will we see you in a Grand Tour in 2012?

“Not this year, I want time to develop – I’ll ride races like this and California, around one week duration.

“I don’t want to overdo it – there are the world team time trial championships and perhaps the Olympics to think about.

“We won the TTT in Tirreno and we’re all pretty gee-ed for the Worlds.”

When will you know if you have an Olympic ride?

“I’m not sure on selection dates but we have a five man team, with the aim being to support Matt Goss.

“I’d like to get a result in the time trial here in the Dauphine, mid-week so as I can put my hand up and ask to be considered for an Olympic spot.”

How has Orica coming aboard affected things?

“It’s fantastic for the team to have another backer – particularly an Australian one.

“It’ll let us take things to the next level – and long may the partnership continue.”

Tomorrow’s parcours looks a tad lumpy.

“We’ll have a look at that in the morning; tonight I think we might have a glass of champagne.”

VeloVeritas likes the man’s style!

Luke Durbridge
Triple world junior champion Durbridge nearly did himself a mischief at the Edinburgh Nocturne. Photo©Ed Hood

Result - Critérium du Dauphiné 2012 Prologue 5.7km

Stage Result

1 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:06:38
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:01
3 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
4 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
5 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:05
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
7 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Bmc Racing Team
10 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:00:07
11 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
12 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm
13 Richie Porte