While teammate Mat Hayman was in disbelief over his Paris-Roubaix victory on the 15th attempt, Orica-GreenEdge teammate Luke Durbridge rolled into the velodrome inside the top twenty at a monument for the first time in his career thinking what could have been. The 25-year-old first rode 'The Hell of the North' in 2013, finishing 110th, and has progressed as a classics rider during his time in the professional peloton with the Australian team.
This year though was all about enjoying the moment and soaking in Hayman's victory, just the second for Australia after Stuart O'Grady's 2007 triumph, despite his best result yet over the pave.
Speaking with Cyclingnews after the race, Durbridge expressed his delight with Hayman's victory while downplaying his role in the team winning a third monument.
"Yeah speechless, 15 Roubaix's for Mat Hayman and there's no person more deserving," Durbridge said, "unbelievable and I am just glad I god experience that. It was special."
Durbridge has ridden the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix double for the last three years and has stepped up his classics game in 2016, moving to Gent to greater focus on performing on the cobbles. Having animated Dwars door Vlaanderen, Durbridge was 37th at E3 Harelbeke, abandoned Gent-Wevelgem before finishing sixth overall at the Three Days De Panne to suggest he was hitting form at the right time.
Starting Roubaix for the fourth time in his career, Durbridge explained that while he felt good and had the legs to follow moves at the right times, mechanicals ultimately ended his chances of sneaking into the top-ten but quickly added personal results mattered little in contrast to Hayman's victory.
"For me, I had a good day and an unlucky day," he reflected. "I crashed and I punctured twice but who cares? I came back a few times and punctured in the front group with Hayman and came back with Sagan and punctured again and then five k to go I punctured.
"It was a bit of a nightmare for myself but I am glad I kept fighting. I am just glad I could finish and roll into the velodrome to see Mat Hayman throw his hands in the air."
Orica-GreenEdge have steadily built its classics squad since making its debut in the peloton back in 2012 and with the addition of Hayman from 2014, they have placed greater emphasis on the cobbles. Durbridge has become one the key riders in the classics for GreenEdge who until now, largely flew under the radar with the likes of Sagan, Boonen and Cancellara occupying the headlines this spring.
"To be honest, our team has been up there a couple of times in classics and we have a small squad," said Durbridge. "Most of the season we race with seven guys so we're kind of the underdogs here but it's an underdog victory and so special."
Hayman's victory, along with his 18th place, has given Durbridge greater encouragement that he too can stand atop the Roubaix dais and promised to be back in the years to come to achieve his dream.
"It's persistence isn't? Its my fourth Roubaix so if anything goes to show, hopefully I don't have to wait to 15 to get mine, but I'll be back here again and fighting and that's inspiration," he said.
The immediate focus in the aftermath of victory was the matter of celebration rather than next year's race. Asked whether he might enjoy a beer or two in celebration, Durbridge said with a smile "it's an understatement I reckon".
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