After missing selection for Australia’s UCI Track World Championships squad Luke Durbridge bounced back to win the weekend’s Mersey Valley Tour in Tasmania, Australia at the weekend. Despite being the only Jayco-Skins rider contesting the race, a solid time trial set Durbridge up for overall victory by just eight seconds, putting the West Australian in the National Road Series lead.
“It was a good result, I would have liked to have gone to track worlds, but I missed out on the team just one week before they left,” Durbridge told Cyclingnews. “I thought I had good training and form so I may as well go down to Mersey Valley. To come back with a win is just really good.”
Durbridge admitted the victory helped soften the blow of missing out on selection for the Copenhagen, Denmark race. “It did, it did actually, as it gave me something to look forward to,” he said. “It also gave me something I could finish on before having a little bit of a break. I’m having a little break before I go to Europe, so I wanted to finish on a high. To go down and have a really good time trial, then hold on for the win was really good.”
Durbridge will contest the next round of Cycling Australia’s NRS, Canberra Tour, before joining the Australian Under 23 development program at its base in Varese, Italy. With Durbridge heading to Europe to compete on the road for the first time, trying to win the National Road Series will be difficult for Durbridge as he’ll likely only contest three of the series’ seven rounds.
“I’m having about a week off, not long, just over Easter,” he explained. “Then I’ll get into a three or four week road block leading up to the Canberra Tour, then I go from there on to Europe to meet up with the boys in Varese.
“I’ve thought about [defending the NRS leader jersey] if I can go to Canberra and have a reasonable time there,” he said. “I’ll have an actual team there this time, in Michael Hepburn and Glenn O’Shea. If I have a good run in Canberra then go to Gippsland and do the same, I could possibly go alright but it’s not really one of my major goals for this season. It’s just if it happens it happens.”
After riding solo, with some help from the West Australian-based Plan B squad in Tasmania, Durbridge is looking forward to having some team-mates by his side in Canberra next month. “It’s going to be definitely handy to have a few team-mates around,” he admitted. “Plan B helped me out as much as it could but it’s still always good to have your own team-mates. When you’re nearing a finish and it’s four on one, it’s not fun.”
As Durbridge readies for his first European block of racing the rider says he’s looking to continually improve his time trialling. With the UCI World Road Championships being held in Geelong, Australia, and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India immediately after, Durbridge is determined not to miss out on a second chance to represent his national this year.
“With it being my first season in Europe, I definitely want to have a good season over there and hopefully get some results on the road front there,” he said. “We’re doing a couple of good tours there, I’d like to have a good time trial in the Thüringen-Rundfahrt in Germany and also the Olympias Tour in Holland. The eventual goal is road worlds in Geelong where I’d hope to run top 10 in the time trial, plus a good road race.
“There’s also Commonwealth Games – it just depends on which is an option,” he added. “If I make the Commonwealth Games squad then I might be going there but if I don’t road worlds is definitely the main focus of the season.”
Cycling Australia’s National Road Series continues with the Canberra Tour, from April 30 – May 2.