Australian eager to return to top step of the podium
Having narrowly missed out on a third consecutive national Australian time trial victory in January, Luke Durbridge (Orica-Greenedge) is looking to end his disappointment with victory in the Oceania Championships' time trial.
Having started his season in early-January at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, Durbridge was next seen at that Australian nationals and then the Tour Down Under (TDU) where he helped Simon Gerrans to overall victory. Having enjoyed a small break, Durbridge is hoping to claim the race against the clock before he steps onto a plane for Europe where he'll be based for the rest of the season.
"I was a little tired after the Tour Down Under but I've had a bit of a break after that and then I've built back up quite well so I'm looking forward to seeing where my form is at," Durbridge told Cyclingnews.
"I haven't done anything necessarily to test where it is so I'll have to wait and see where it is tomorrow. I'm feeling quite good and confident about tomorrow."
The roads around Toowoomba are to Durbridge's favour and the West Australian is quietly confident in chance of victory up against a strong field.
"The course is quite good, it's one that will suite me. They're going to be quite hard and dead roads on the way to the turnaround then on the way back it's going to be pretty fast with a tailwind.
While several teams will have multiple entrants, Durbridge is the sole GreenEdge rider for the race. "Obviously Drapac have a few guys, Will Clarke, Jack Anderson, Travis Meyer, they'll do quite well. Also you've got guys like Joe Cooper and Ben Dyball [Avanti] so I think it will be quite a good field but you never know. I haven't trained or raced with them since the nationals so I'll have to go off that.
In 2013 Durbridge was victorious in both the time trial and road race so he only wore the team kit during team time trials. In 2014 Durbridge is back to team issue outfit and it hasn't caused him any nightmares to do so.
"It's alright, it could be quite good. The last two years I've ridden with the national jersey which has been very special but you can never take that for granted. There are a few mistakes that I made at nationals which I want to go out and make amends for."
"There always be someone there who wants to take it off you. I think it's been good for my motivation levels and also my 'hungry' levels in sense of trying to get back the jersey. It's a healthy competition."
Having enjoyed a successful summer of racing in Australia which saw GreenEdge take home the treble - Australian nationals, TDU and Jayco Herald Sun Tour - Durbridge explained the enjoyment of a job well done and the post-racing lull.
"I think that's why, after that there was a bit of a low point. I did the bay crits, nationals and TDU so I was a bit drained and felt 'ah, ok that's a bit of a low because it was such a big high' but I'm looking forward to capping it off with Oceanias and then heading off to Europe."
The GreenEdge culture
While the team portrays itself via their Backstage Pass videos as easy going and relaxed, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going as Durbridge explained.
"It's a hard mix to be serious and also to have fun but at the moment we have a good mix of it. Our leaders are quite easy to work for because they are very appreciative and thankful as well as good people so that makes a difference to when you have a leader who is arrogant and quite cocksure, it makes the atmosphere of the team a bit different as the workers get disgruntled.
"At GreenEdge we don't have any of that regardless of who we're working for. We're all really committed to that person."
A feature of the team's success has been the spread of winners with riders knowing that they will be rewarded for putting in the yard yards when necessary.
"Because we get so many wins with so many different people, as you can see, we had Michael Hepburn at the Tour of Qatar and Leigh Howard's leading overall now in Oman. We have a vast variety of talent and people capable of winning a race so I think everyone feels that their opportunity will come if they do the right by everyone else.
"Leigh's leading Aidis [Kruopis] in Qatar and now Aidis is leading out Leigh in Oman so that's the way it works at GreenEdge and why we have a good culture."