Durbridge and Juul Jensen double act leads to top ten in Strade BiancheSat 4 Mar 2017
Former Australian national road race champion Luke Durbridge and 2015 Tour of Denmark winner Chris Juul Jensen both finished in the top ten for ORICA-SCOTT in an epic edition of Strade Bianche today.
Strong winds and heavy rain made for a spectacular, attack filled 11th edition of the Italian one day classic with Michael Kwiatkowski (Team-Sky) the eventual winner after a late solo attack and Durbridge and Juul Jensen finishing 6th and 7th respectively.
The ORICA-SCOTT duo marked the key moves of the race and worked tirelessly to ensure they made it into the winning break with around 70kilometres left to race before the group split on the approach to the finale.
“The support from the team was fantastic today,” said Juul Jensen at the finish. “It’s a real example of how hard the team works for each other, Luke and I communicated all the way through and he did so well to bridge across to the group I was in initially, that from there it was a matter of playing our cards right.”
“It is so worthwhile and satisfying to achieve a result like this, in a race like this, Luke is in a rich vein of form right now and when you are surrounded by such an elite group contesting the finale you have to ride with your head and stick to the plan.
“Obviously a big thank you to the team for allowing me to go for it today, it is great to be afforded that kind of freedom and now we can hopefully carry the positivity and momentum into Paris-Nice tomorrow.”
Sport director Neil Stephens echoed the sentiments of Juul Jensen and praised the team for the gutsy performance.
“Really smart race by the guys today,” said Stephens. “It was such a gutsy move by Luke to make it over to Chris’s group and from then on they were very intelligent and very strong.”
“It was a physically challenging race, great to watch and great to be a part of. The guys were in some really classy company for the final third and you couldn’t ask for more from either of them. It is a clear indication of how well the team as a whole is progressing.”
How it happened:
Light rain was starting to fall in Siena as the peloton made their way out of the neutral zone with a group of five riders attacking immediately to form the early breakaway.
Two minutes separated the field after 30kilometres of racing as Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) bridged across to the leaders and the group became six.
The sextet managed to extend their lead past five minutes as the weather worsened, before the peloton started to show cracks and finally split into several groups with 75kilometres remaining.
Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC) were two of the main protagonists in the first chasing group of around twenty riders that also included Durbridge and Juul Jensen for ORICA-SCOTT.
The race was now on with riders losing and regaining contact with every undulation for the following 30kilometres until Matteo Trentin (Quickstep-Floors) unleashed a strong attack with 38kilometres to go.
The attack of Trentin simultaneously split the chasing group and caught the remnants of the earlier breakaway whilst taking Kwiatkowski and Van Avermaet with him.
Twenty kilometres later and it was the turn of Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) to shake things up once more, leading a group of four riders away and creating a ten second gap before the group came back together once more.
In the end it was Kwiatkowski who led solo into the finale, holding an advantage of 30seconds as he hit the final climb up the Piazza Del Campo, soloing to the win with Durbridge and Juul Jensen finishing in 6th and 7th for ORICA-SCOTT.
Strade Bianche results:
1. Michael Kwiatkowski (Team-Sky) 04:42:42
2. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 00:00:15
3. Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors) 00:00:17
6. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:01:26
7. Chris Juul Jensen (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:01:29
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com