Durbridge solos to victory at the Australian Road Championships

Early breakaway provides perfect launch pad for Orica GreenEdge

Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) has won his second Australian national title this week after claiming the Australian national road title on Sunday. Durbridge was part of the early breakaway that reached a maximum lead of over seven minutes before riders slowly began to fall off the pace. The final man left with Durbridge was Bernard Sulzberger who returned to Australia this season to ride for Drapac Professional Cycling.

Sulzberger was caught on the final ascent of Buninyong and held on to finish 10th in the small bunch sprint battling for the medals. A group of 25 arrived at the finish line over 1 minute behind Durbridge who celebrated a historic victory by winning the time trial and the road race in the same year.

Durbridge was left to ride the final lap and a half of the Buninyong circuit on his own, riding into the finishing straight with time to savour his amazing win.

"The last six k was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had," said an emotional Durbridge at the finish.

"I buried myself up the hill with two laps left to race," said Dubridge. "With Bernie (Bernard Sulzberger) gone, I only had to hold on for the win. The team had a plan, and we stuck to it. People see me take the win, and they don't realise what goes behind back in the bunch to support my effort."

"It's special to do the double," he said. "Everyone has pointed out that that I'm the first, and I guess that makes it even more special. My focus has been to win the time trial. With that done, I wanted to do my job for the team in the road race. My job became to win for the team. I'm happy I could pull off the win."

Orica GreenEdge's latest recruit Michael Matthews won the sprint for silver as the remnants of the early breakaway were finally swept up in the closing laps. First-year professional Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) took the final spot on the podium thanks to his third-place.

"I must have been going ok to get over those climbs with the front guys and still have a sprint in the finish," said Matthews. "Luke rode awesome, he was amazing and it took the pressure of us a lot."

Having rallied his teammates in the closing laps to control the pace, Von Hoff was happy with taking his second medal of the championships. The Garmin-Sharp rider claimed third-place earlier in the week at the criterium.

"The Garmin-Sharp boys did an awesome job out there today," said Von Hoff from the podium. "It worked well."

How it unfolded

The 132-rider peloton took a calmer approach to the start of this year's Australian Road Cycling Championships. Rolling out from the start and toward the first ascent of the famous Buninyong climb there was a distinct lack of attacks as the bunch remained intact while sitting on 30km/h. It wasn't until over the top of the climb that a group formed off the front.

Reaching speeds in excess of 80km/h a group of six managed to break clear. Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac Professional Cycling), Blair Windsor (Budget Forklifts), Pat Shaw (Huon-Genesys Wealth Advisers), Cameron Bayly (search2retain), James Mowatt (Vic) and Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEdge) and James Szollosi quickly gained a gap over the charging peloton.

With little interest in chasing the break their lead rapidly grew as the front group of six rode towards the last-minute course change. A burst water main on the main descent of Fisken Road meant the twisting descent was deemed too dangerous to use.

A minor change to the route had the race travel along a parallel road that was straighter and significantly quicker. This modification would however, do little to impact the race.

Entering the start/finish for the first time the leading group has broken clear by over six minutes. Hitting Buninyong for the second time Richie Lang (Raleigh) was surprisingly struggling with the pace. His day was finished suggesting the rider who performed strongly at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour may have come into the championships with an illness.

With less than 40km covered the commissaries instructed team managers to put riders on the front of the bunch to control the gap to the break. If the front group reached the 10 minuted mark, the peloton would likely be pulled off the course. With the smaller laps covered in a little under 15 minutes the bunch soon began to lift the pace.

It was at this time Orica GreenEdge instructed Durbridge to cease working with the breakaway.

Trent Wilson instructed his GPM-Data#3 squad to set tempo on the front in an attempt to get other teams involved. Their pace-setting reduced the gap immediately until they decided to cease their efforts.

Pre-race favourite Will Walker (Drapac) punctured around the 60km and a number of teammates slowed to wait for their leader. Walker had played down his form at a Gala Dinner earlier in the week but the caged Victorian remained at good odds with the bookies.

Fearing their race may soon be over, the attacks started coming out of the bunch. Groups formed before coming back into the fold but it did succeed in reducing the gap to just under five minutes after two hours of racing.

Getting to the end of the last of the larger laps it was Dan Bonello (Parramatta Race Team) and Andrew Crawley (GPM-Data#3) who tried their luck off the front. The Sydney training buddies gained time on the dawdling bunch and made some inroads into catching the break during their stint away. Their time would be short-lived however, as they were caught by the peloton after three laps away.

The breakaway began to work together again with Durbridge swapping turns for the next few laps. Coming into six laps-to-go both Bayly and Szollosi began to suffer. Bayly who was leaing the Hill Climb classification was dropped briefly as Sulzberger took maximum points. Bayly would of course need to continue to suffer if he was to pick up the classification jersey at the end of the day. Szollosi meanwhile made his way back to the group as they crested the top.

Another lap down and the leaders had maintained their lead of over five minutes. The pace became too much for Windsor and Szollosi, both being despatched from the pace set by the stronger riders leaving Shaw, Durbridge and Sulzberger at the head of the race.

Still some distance behind the leading trio, Mark O'Brien (Raleigh) increased the pace on the climb and brought out the reaction of last year's bronze medal winner Richie Porte (Team Sky). O'Brien's climbing skills put most of the peloton into difficulty and split it in half. O'Brien was caught but the remaining dropped riders would not see the main group again.

With four laps to go former winner of the Australian road title Jack Bobridge (Blanco Pro Cycling) attacked the shrinking peloton and took Orica GreenEdge rider and previous Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke for company. Cooke would not be contributing to the chase with Mowatt also being picked up by the determined Bobridge.

After his disappointing ride in the time trial earlier in the week Bobridge was clearly on a mission. The Blanco rider was soon joined by a number of fellow professionals with Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), Simon Clarke, Travis Meyer and Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge, Mathew Hayman (Team Sky), Will Walker (Drapac) and Lachlan Norris (Raleigh) went in pursuit.

Durbridge attacked his breakaway companions entering the feed zone and while Shaw and Sulzberger managed to follow the accelerations of the time trial champion at first, it proved too much for Shaw who cracked before the top of the KOM.

The chase group had been absorbed into what was left of the peloton and with two laps remaining the gap was still 2:55 with approximately 20km to go.

Within the main field was a huge contingent of Orica GreenEdge riders along with those from Sky, Saxo-Tinkoff and Garmin-Sharp.

Entering the penultimate climb to Buninyong Sulzberger was put into difficulty before Durbridge took off own his own. The time trialling ability of Durbridge was soon put on show as he entered the final lap with more than two minutes over the remaining chase. Sulzberger wouldn't be caught until the top of the ascent of Buninyong with approximately 15 riders set to battle out the final positions on the podium.

At the finish it was an exhausted Durbridge who had time to spare, waving to the huge crowd that had just watched his amazing feat take place. 

More to come...


# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Luke Durbridge (WA) 5:00:46  
2 Michael Matthews (ACT) 0:01:04  
3 Steele Von Hoff (Vic)    
4 Neil Van Der Ploeg (Vic)    
5 Christopher Sutton (SA)    
6 Jay McCarthy (Qld)    
7 William Walker (Vic)    
8 Zakkari Dempster (Vic)    
9 Simon Gerrans (Vic)    
10 Bernard Sulzberger (Tas)    
11 Cameron Wurf (Tas)    
12 Cameron Meyer (WA)    
13 Mark O'Brien (Vic)    
14 Lachlan Norris (Vic)    
15 Nathan Earle (Tas)    
16 Jai Crawford (Tas)    
17 Daniel McConnell (Vic)    
18 Jay Bourke (Vic)    
19 Matthew Lloyd (Vic)    
20 Adam Hansen (Qld)    
21 Karl Evans (SA)    
22 Travis Meyer (WA)    
23 Mathew Hayman (ACT)    
24 Darren Lapthorne (Vic)    
25 Robbie Hucker (Vic)    
26 Leigh Howard (Vic) 0:01:15  
27 Ben Dyball (NSW) 0:01:35  
28 Fabio Calabria (ACT) 0:02:06  
29 Chris Jory (NSW)    
30 Shaun McCarthy (Vic)    
31 Marc Williams (ACT)    
32 Jason Spencer (Vic)    
33 Cal Britten (Vic)    
34 Richard Porte (Tas)    
35 Nathan Haas (ACT) 0:02:58  
36 Michael Cupitt (ACT) 0:03:03  
37 Adrian Jackson (Vic)    
38 Jack Anderson (Qld) 0:04:24  
39 Tom Leaper (Vic) 0:05:43  
40 Simon Clarke (Vic) 0:05:46  
41 Matthew Goss (Tas)    
42 Thomas Palmer (ACT)    
43 William Clarke (Tas)    
44 Joseph Lewis (NSW) 0:06:40  
45 Steven Waite (Vic) 0:07:10  
46 Nick Bensley (Vic) 0:08:13  
47 Peter Herzig (Qld) 0:10:40  
48 Peter English (Vic)    
49 Alexander Smyth (Vic)    
50 Nathan Elliott (Vic) 0:11:45  
51 James Szollosi (Qld) 0:15:19  
DNF Anthony Giacoppo (WA)    
DNF Baden Cooke (Vic)    
DNF Jack Bobridge (SA)    
DNF Jonathan Cantwell (Qld)    
DNF Rohan Dennis (SA)    
DNF Mark Renshaw (NSW)    
DNF Mitchell Docker (Vic)    
DNF Graeme Brown (WA)    
DNF David Woolsey (Vic)    
DNF Nicholas Woods (NSW)    
DNF Nicholas Wood (SA)    
DNF Samuel Witmitz (Vic)    
DNF Edward White (NSW)    
DNF John Walker (Vic)    
DNF Adam Trewin (Vic)    
DNF Tomas Szollosi (Qld)    
DNF Wesley Sulzberger (Tas)    
DNF Daniel Strauss (Vic)    
DNF Patrick Shaw (Vic)    
DNF Allan Satchell (Vic)    
DNF Dean Sanfilippo (Vic)    
DNF Sam Rutherford (NSW)    
DNF Malcolm Rudolph (Qld)    
DNF Rico Rogers (Vic)    
DNF Andrew Roe (SA)    
DNF Tom Robinson (Tas)    
DNF Rhys Pollock (NSW)    
DNF Luke Pledger (WA)    
DNF David Parsons (SA)    
DNF Daniel O'Keefe (NSW)    
DNF James Mowatt (Vic)    
DNF Nick Morgan (Vic)    
DNF Christian McDonald (Vic)    
DNF Cameron McDonald (Vic)    
DNF Liam McCarthy (Qld)    
DNF Mathew Marshall (Qld)    
DNF Alastair Loutit (ACT)    
DNF Shaun Lewis (ACT)    
DNF Richard Lang (NSW)    
DNF Caleb Jones (NSW)    
DNF Shannon Johnson (Vic)    
DNF Saxon Irvine (NSW)    
DNF Jon Houston (SA)    
DNF James Henry (Vic)    
DNF Dean Heathcote (Vic)    
DNF Dylan Hately (Vic)    
DNF Stuart Grimsey (Vic)    
DNF Ben Grenda (Tas)    
DNF David Gillies (ACT)    
DNF Sean Finning (Vic)    
DNF Luke Fetch (Vic)    
DNF Blair Windsor (NSW)    
DNF Mark Fagg (Vic)    
DNF Reece-Emerson Van Beek (Vic)    
DNF Michael Troy (NSW)    
DNF Brodie Talbot (NSW)    
DNF Jacob Sutherland (Vic)    
DNF Nicholas Squillari (Vic)    
DNF Samuel Rix (Vic)    
DNF Antony Dimitrovski (NSW)    
DNF Jonathan Lovelock (Vic)    
DNF Brad Davies (SA)    
DNF Nicholas D'Ambrosio (NSW)    
DNF Jacob Kauffmann (NSW)    
DNF Stephen Cunningham (SA)    
DNF Andrew Crawley (NSW)    
DNF Jayden Copp (Qld)    
DNF Michael Freiberg (WA)    
DNF Bradley Clark (Vic)    
DNF Peter Casey (Vic)    
DNF Correy Edmed (Qld)    
DNF Thomas Donald (Qld)    
DNF Lee Burchell (Vic)    
DNF Vaughan Bowman (Vic)    
DNF Daniel Bonello (NSW)    
DNF Jonathan Bolton (WA)    
DNF Etienne Blumstein-Jones (ACT)    
DNF Cameron Bayly (SA)    
DNF Kenneth Ballhause (Vic)    
DNF Michael Hepburn (Qld)    
DNF Lachlan Morton (NSW)    
DNS Stuart O'Grady (SA)    
DNS Kane Walker (Vic)    
DNS Geoff Straub (NSW)    
DNS Peter Smith (Vic)    
DNS Chris Jongewaard (SA)    
DNS Luke Tuddenham (Vic)    
DNS Joel Strachan (Vic)    
DNS Rowan Dever (Vic)    
DNS Ruan Benson (Qld)    
Hill climb classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Luke Durbridge (WA) 20  pts
2 Bernard Sulzberger (Tas) 13  
3 James Szollosi (Qld) 8  
4 Cameron Meyer (WA) 2  
5 Mark O'Brien (Vic) 1  
6 Darren Lapthorne (Vic) 1  
DNF Cameron Bayly (SA) 21  
DNF Patrick Shaw (Vic) 9  
DNF Blair Windsor (NSW) 3  


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