Luke Durbridge hadn't raced a time trial since injuring his ankle at the Tour De France when he lined out for stage 5 of the Tour of Britain. With clear skies and dry roads, unlike the July afternoon in Dusseldorf, the Orica-Scott rider quickly found his rhythm and pushed the pace on the course to slot into the hot seat when he crossed the line.
The former Australian national champion posted a time of 19:23 minutes that would stand for a touch over 20 minutes before Sky's Vasil Kiryienka bumped him into second. Durbridge continued to slide down the standings as his average pace of 50.146 km/h was bettered by his rivals. By the time teammate Caleb Ewan crossed the line as the last finisher due to mechanical issues, Durbridge was tenth for his best European time trial result outside of Three Days de Panne since the 2015 Giro d'Italia.
"I was surprised with today as it is my first race back. I had to work hard in that period off racing, so I am happy with today to get a bit of confirmation in myself, especially in a time trial. It is good knowing I am not too far away from where I know I can be," said Durbridge. "I have been working for Caleb the last couple of days, riding to bring breaks back. On yesterday's stage we as a team had to go really hard the last 30kilometres to get the break back so I was pretty much spent, so today I really had a no pressure attitude and wasn't expecting anything."
Although Durbridge was able to start two of the Tour de France, he was unable to finish the race with the Tour of Britain his comeback from the injury. Despite the setback, Durbridge earned selection for the Worlds and has confirmed the selector's faith with his race against the clock.
With three stages to race, Orica Scott's general classification aspirations have expired and the focus for the team is on adding to Ewan's two previous wins. With no jersey to defend, Durbridge added he expects it will be an easier task for him and his teammates.
"We are out of contention overall after today but we will continue to go for Caleb and stages," he said. "We have been on the front foot the last couple of days, so now that we don't have the leaders jersey we can let the other teams do the brunt of the work. We can then save a few more guys for our lead-out for Caleb and try and get him another stage victory."
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