U23 time trial world champion Luke Durbridge claimed his first WorldTour success at the Critérium du Dauphiné, winning the 5.7km prologue in Grenoble by one second over defending champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). It was a remarkable result for the Orica GreenEdge rider, who leapt from the Continental level to the sport's top tier after his strong showing on the track and road in 2011.
Ever humble, Durbridge attributed his win to the weather conditions: scattered showers affected some riders, but Durbridge was the 26th rider of 175 to start and enjoyed dry roads.
"I think today I chose the right time to go off," Durbridge said. "It got a little bit windier towards the end of the race, and a bit wet on the corners."
The teams can choose to send their riders off earlier or later, and while stage or overall favourites generally pick the later slots in order to judge their efforts based on the earlier riders' times, many of the favourites were betting on the weather in Grenoble, where afternoon thunderstorms were predicted.
"It can go either way," Durbridge said of the choice. "I've been in a situation where you get the wet roads and you don't get the result you want, so I flipped the coin and it landed on my side. It's a great result for me and I couldn't be happier."
His first WorldTour win comes after a strong early season: Durbridge won the Australian time trial title in January, and followed that with a time trial win in the Circuit de la Sarthe and the overall victory. He now leads the Critérium du Dauphiné in both the overall and best young rider classifications.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said of today's success. "I came here to focus on the process of the time trial, getting my start right, keeping the cadence high, and the corners - I just focused on the time trial itself." Keeping the pressure to perform off of his sounders, he said "helped me today to do my best result."
Durbridge said he has already exceeded his expectations for the Critérium du Dauphiné. "I came with two objectives, one was to do a good time trial today and the next one is the longer time trial (stage 4) to see if I can have a go there. That's it. For me, I'm not trying to ride GC or keep the jersey, I just want to enjoy today and tomorrow is tomorrow."
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