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Is Durbridge the next Cancellara?

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Luke Durbridge on his way to the gold medal

Luke Durbridge on his way to the gold medal (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Luke Durbridge (Australia) was focused and fast

Luke Durbridge (Australia) was focused and fast (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luke Durbridge takes TT gold at the 2011 U23 road world championships

Luke Durbridge takes TT gold at the 2011 U23 road world championships (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Luke Durbridge approaches the finish to the men's elite time trial during his gold medal ride.

Luke Durbridge approaches the finish to the men's elite time trial during his gold medal ride. (Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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Luke Durbridge was domestique duties.

Luke Durbridge was domestique duties. (Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Luke Durbridge with his time trial gold medal in the under-23 category.

Luke Durbridge with his time trial gold medal in the under-23 category. (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)

Cycling Australia's High Performance Director Kevin Tabotta is firm of the belief that while there is no doubt Luke Durbridge will be disappointed to have fallen out of contention for a spot in Australia's team pursuit squad for the UCI Track World Championships and London Olympic Games, better things are to come for the 20-year-old.

Cyclingnews revealed last week that Durbridge's gains over the past 12 months on the road had in fact resulted in him no longer being able to produce the speed required for the four-kilometre event on the pines. Durbridge was a member of the rainbow jersey-winning team in Apeldoorn last year.

"I had my doubts in the Cali World Cup camp in November," Durbridge told Cyclingnews regarding his future with Australia's track team. "I hadn't made the progression I would have liked to in the team pursuit area. Then at the London camp it just confirmed that I was better-suited to the road and the track wasn't going to happen for me."

On the road, Durbridge improved on his 2010 silver medal to become under 23 world time trial champion in Copenhagen. Tabotta believes that his 2011 result on the road is just the start with bigger things to come for the West Austalian GreenEdge neo pro.

"We talk about athletes as being aerobic or anaerobic animals and Luke is very much an aerobic, diesel-style endurance rider," Tabotta explained. "Hence he's got really good attributes in road time trialling."

Tabotta confirmed that it was the opening kilometre of the team pursuit that was hurting Durbridge, with its 0:01:02-pace.

"His physiology is telling us that he can do a certain pace all day," Tabotta said. "But to operate over four minutes, you only have to lift that intensity by a couple of per cent and that will shoot your blood lactates beyond what you're able to deal with, and that's what's happening with Luke. He's just not dealing with the speed that occurs in the first kilometre and unfortunately you've got to be going at that speed to be in the race."

Durbridge is currently at a GreenEdge training camp in the Sierra Navada preparing for an assault on the tough roads of northern Europe where he is expected to make his debut at the VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde although he may also race Waregem a week earlier.

While comparisons between Fabian Cancellara and Durbridge have been made in the past, with the pair sharing similar physical attributes, Tabotta's predictions add further weight to the expectations.

"I think what you'll see with someone like Luke Durbridge is the older he gets, the better he's going to get over distance. As he develops his road career, and gets into the 240 and 250km distances and he gets five years down the track, I think he's going to be a big player down that end."