Luke Durbridge blasted around Ballarat to win gold in the individual time trial at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships. The defending champion covered the 37 kilometre Lake Wendouree course in 43:26.71 to beat out Rohan Dennis (South Australia) for the title. Michael Matthews, in his first outing in ORICA-GreenEDGE colours, took the bronze medal.
“Winning the national title was definitely my main objective for January,” said Durbridge. “I worked hard over December to achieve that goal, and I’m happy to come out with the win.”
“It’s an honour to wear national colours,” Durbridge continued. “To have that honour last year and achieve it again this year is a huge thing for me. I take a lot of motivation from wearing the championship jersey. I’m glad to do it again this year. My 2013 season has started quite well.”
As defending champion, Durbridge recognized that anything less than the gold medal would be underwhelming.
“It was different this year to go into the race with the win as an expectation,” he said. “It’s a different sort of feeling when anything but the win would be a disappointment. I used that pressure to motivate and drive me when I trained and raced. When it got hard out there today, I was able to remind myself that you don’t win when it isn’t hard. The pressure was good motivation for me in the end.”
Sport Director Matt Wilson drove behind Durbridge during his race effort.
“Durbo is a level-headed guy,” explained Wilson. “He wanted some specific information over the radio with good time checks and a little encouragement towards the end. His radio stopped working during the second half of the course, so it was frustrating for him not have the information he wanted, but he was obviously riding super strong by that point.”
Durbridge crashed yesterday during his pre-ride, and there was some concern that he would deal with stiffness or soreness.
“The crash yesterday didn’t impact me at all today,” said Durbridge. “I didn’t feel it at all.”
Durbridge was full of praise for the new course changes.
“It was great to have full road closures this year,” he noted. “This way traffic didn’t impact anyone. It was windy out there today but super fast. We don’t see 51 kilometre/hour averages too often. The course definitely suited me. I hope they keep it the same next year.”
While Durbridge’s win may have been anticipated, the lessor places were more difficult to predict. Matthews beat out time trial specialist Richie Porte (Tasmania) for the final spot on the podium.
“Bling has been preparing for the time trial, and he set the goal to medal here,” said Wilson. “I knew he’d do a good time trial. He’s done fantastic efforts in the past, so I expected him to be up there. Given the form of both Durbo and Dennis, third place is a fantastic result.”
Road nationals continue tomorrow with the national criterium championships.