Luke Durbridge delivered victory number two for the GreenEDGE family in Portarlington. The young Australian rode a gutsy, aggressive race to win the elite men’s criterium on the second day of racing at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic.
“I attacked myself silly at the start,” said Durbridge. “Inside the final two laps, I thought that I might have gone too hard too early. I didn’t think I’d get the win. I went for it with one lap to go and ended up staying away.”
Durbridge was part of a group of favourites that forced a split in the field ahead of the first intermediate sprint. Shortly after the first sprint lap, he attacked the front group and managed to stay away alone for nearly 20 minutes.
“After he was caught, he almost immediately attacked again,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Eventually, a three rider breakaway formed that lasted until the finish.”
With Durbridge up the road, his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates protected his interests back in the bunch.
“The other guys covered moves from behind,” noted Wilson. “They limited the number of riders allowed across and neutralized the race. Leigh Howard looked after his legs so that he would be well poised to win the bunch sprint if it all came back together.”
As the laps ticked down, Durbridge, Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) and James Oram (Grays Online) gained a 20 second advantage on a chasing, shattered peloton. Durbridge launched his final attack on the bell lap.
“Luke really showed his cards in terms of having super form for the National Championships next week,” said Wilson. “Leigh also rode a great race. He won the bunch sprint for fifth place.”
Durbridge’s win today marks an improvement over his second place showing in Portarlington last year.
“This is a super hard course with a solid climb,” noted Durbridge. “This type of racing suits me. The sprinters had their day yesterday around the hot dog while I struggled. Today was one for riders like me.”
“I was glad to get the win,” he added. “The team is riding really well with Jens finishing second from the break yesterday and me taking the win today. Hopefully we can do something tomorrow, too.”
Durbridge leapfrogged up to second place on the general classification following his stage win. He trails race leader Caleb Ewan (Bikebug) by five points.