It's been a while since I've thrown one of these together – but there's been a lot happening. I've just got back from the Tour of Romandie which was my first mountainous race for the year – that was pretty tough.
It's been a pretty full-on start to the season. Once I stopped racing track I just thought ‘right, time to knuckle down'. It wasn't that I hadn't been prior, but I just realised it was time to give road a really good crack and see how I can go.
I've had to juggle a few niggling injuries along the way, probably because I've been a little bit too motivated and got into it a bit too fast - that resulted in a little bit of tendonitis in my Achilles. It's getting better now but I had to nurse it through the races. At Three Days of De Panne I got eighth in the time trial and seventh overall and then went and won the time trial at Sarthe along with the overall. The racing in Belgium was tough, I'll admit, but I was blessed with the weather – normally there's rain and wind. The first stage was 220 kilometres and I rode terrible position all day. I finished in the front 50 or so but I felt like I'd done a 230km TT. I looked around and I don't think any of the others found it that hard. It's all about positioning in Belgium! But you learn...
There have been no regrets about my decision to focus solely on the road. I'd love to be in the team, it's something that I did for three years and it would have been great to go to the Olympic Games and win gold with the guys but it's not to be. I gave it a go, and didn't make it. I watched the guys' efforts at the recent Track Worlds and while it wouldn't have been nice to take the silver medal in front of the Melbourne crowd, I reckon it's going to give them even more motivation to win gold in London.
One of the biggest challenges is the continual focus that you need for the road throughout the season. On the track, you train for six weeks and then you have one event and then you can mentally switch off. On the road, it's on-going. You might do 50-80 race days in a year and you're always thinking about the next one. It can be hard. The other thing I've noticed in the mid-tour time trial. It's a totally different story that going into a chrono completely fresh. I think I'm handling then alright though; it's only early in the season so hopefully there's room to improve.
The next race for me is the Tour of California and I'll head to the US this week. It's a big one for Orica GreenEdge. It will be the team's first race in the States and I haven't raced there before either. Robbie McEwen will be racing for the last time and I'm sure he'll be super-motivated like he always is. Hopefully we can get him in good position to get to the finish. I'm really looking forward to the race. There's a 30km time trial so I'm really focussing on that, along with helping Cam Meyer for GC along with Robbie and Leigh Howard for some sprints.
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Western Australia's Luke Durbridge is a man on a mission in 2012, having signed on as a neo pro for GreenEdge in their debut season in the UCI WorldTour ranks while wearing the rainbow jersey of the under 23 World Time Trial Champion from Copenhagen. Add to that the fact that the 20-year-old is a member of Australia's world champion team pursuit and Durbridge has quite a task ahead of him in the season ahead – a fact that makes this rider one to watch.
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