Tour de France: Durbridge out but Yates challenge up and running

The opening weekend of the Tour de France is always a nervous affair with crashes, splits and mishaps around almost every corner. For Orica Scott the first two stages have not been without incident - Simon Yates put in a more than respectable time trial in Dusseldorf, while Esteban Chaves came through his first Tour de France stage without too many concerns.

However, Luke Durbridge has been forced out through injury and has been sent home for scans.

The Australian all-rounder crashed in the time trial on stage 1 and although he took to the start on Sunday, the injuries were too severe and he was forced to step off the bike during Sunday's stage to Liege. His departure leaves Orica with eight men and a huge hole in their line-up.

"It's definitely a blow because he's a strong boy and he's very dynamic," Matt White told Cyclingnews.

"He cuts across a number of key groups. He's a key guy for the flat stages but he also climbs well on the medium mountain stages too. It's a blow, and we're one rider short but we've been in worse situations. Tonight we're staying in the same hotel where a couple of years ago we had to send three guys home and one guy had bust ribs. We take it with a grain of salt. We've lost a key guy but we've got a strong group and now they're going to have to step up in certain areas and fill the void."

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Although the loss of Durbridge will hit the team hard over the remaining stages, the fact that Yates put in such a strong time trial will reinforce the team's conviction that they have a genuine contender for the podium. The British climber only conceded 22 seconds to defending champion Chris Froome but put valuable seconds into a clutch of GC contenders, such as Alberto Contador.

"That was a great time trial, especially given the conditions. He took some calculated risks but they paid off. The shorter time trials certainly suit him. He's ridden some good rides over the shorter distances and it's the longer ones where he suffers in."

Although Yates' ride provided reasons for optimism White was unwilling to look too far ahead.

"That was one short little window in the Tour de France. It could have gone better for a few teams, including ours with what happened to Durbridge, but it could have gone worse. When you can take time you take it, and when you need to limit your loses you limit them."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.