Skip to main content

Durbridge backs Matthews and Dennis for World Championships success

Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott)
Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Luke Durbridge is backing Michael Matthews and Rohan Dennis to come up trumps for Australia at the World Championships as he takes on the mantle of key support rider in the men's road race.

Durbridge, 28, will also race the individual time trial alongside defending champion Dennis before switching his attention to the final event of the championships with the men's road race four days later on September 29. Currently racing the Tour of Britain as his final warm-up race before the Worlds, Durbridge was named as part of the Australian team in August – weeks before other nations decided on their line-ups. According to the Mitchelton-Scott rider, the decision by the national federation was a positive step.

"It can go both ways. Some riders are coming into form and maybe they come into form a bit late and they don't get selected," Durbridge told Cyclingnews.

"The good thing about it for us is that everyone knows what they're doing,whattheir jobs are,and how they need to prepare. Australia does that really well – letting people know early. Most of the selection races are in the Classics, so it's good that we know," he said. "Our seasons are really long, so it's good to know if we're preparing for the season or if we're shutting the season down."

Durbridge is uncertain whetherhe'll race the mixed-relayteam time trial that raises the curtain on the Worlds, but he is down for the individual time trial, where he will race alongside Dennis. On a personal level, Durbridge will relish the chance to go full throttle in a time trial without the responsibility of having to work for other riders in the days around the event.

"I'm going to go full gas for the TT. There aren't many chances in the year when we can go full gas in an individual TT, so I'm preparing well for that," he said.
 
This year marks the 10th anniversary since Australia last won the men's road race when Cadel Evans soloed to the win in Mendrisio, Italy, in 2009. Since then, Australia has come close to winning the title through the likes of Matt Goss in 2011 and Matthews, who has finished second, third and fourth in his last three starts.

Matthews is currently racing the WorldTour races in Canada, and will check out the Yorkshire course upon his return, and Durbridge believes that his former trade teammate can finally claim the top step on the podium. The team will also back the experienced Simon Clarke – the last surviving member of the 2009 Mendrisio squad, and the only member of that team to abstain when riders were asked to vote between riding for Evans and Simon Gerrans. Only Evans voted for himself.

"In the road race, looking at it form-wise, we've got some good options with Michael and Simon," said Durbridge.

"On a course like this, I think it's good for Michael. He's got a soft spot for the Worlds and we know that he can prepare very, very well. It's one of the biggest dreams of his to win, and I know we've been close a few times in the last few years. I think it's possible now.

"I'll be supporting those two guys as deep intothe race as possible, and using my Classics skills to get them into position. I think it's all going to be about positioning. If I can support those guys as deep as possible into the final, that would suit me."

Dennis' form ahead of the time trial is somewhat unclear. The defending champion from 12 months ago hasn't raced since he abandoned the Tour de France mid-race in controversial circumstances.
 
"If there's one guy that can just train and be ready for the time trial, it's him," Durbridge said.
 
"I don't think that there are too many guys who train harder than him. That goes back to his track days when he had one or two big track days per year. If you come from the track, you really can focus on one event and prepare. When he says he's in good form and wants to defend, then I don't think he needs much racing."