#insideOGE: Luke Durbridge, Gent WevelgemThu 30 Apr 2015
The 2015 Classics season came to a close on Sunday with Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The results of these one-day battles are well documented by teams and the press alike; including our three podiums and best ever result at a cobbled Classic at Paris-Roubaix.
What often isn’t told is the deeper side to these results… The emotion. The triumphs. The lowest of lows. The sacrifice.
The story behind the story, if you will.
It’s this side of cycling that we aim to capture and share with fans in our new series – #insideOGE.
Uniquely captured by the magnificent lens of ‘Kramon’ we open up the doors to ORICA-GreenEDGE to bring you the stories you don’t otherwise see or hear.
#insideOGE will be a regular feature during the upcoming Giro d’Italia, but to give you a little taste of what’s to come we thought you’d enjoy a couple of teasers from the ever-dramatic Classics season.
Welcome #insideOGE. We hope you enjoy.
Cast your minds back to the last Sunday in March for Gent – Wevelgem.
If your memory evades you, or you somehow missed it, we will try to set the scene that can really only be described as ‘mayhem’.
It was wet, it was cold but most of all it was wild. Winds up to 90kmph thrashed the peloton to the point where just 39 of the 200 starters finished with a result against their name.
The above photo of Luke Durbridge, captured by Kramon, was post a wind-caused crash that saw multiple riders land in a canal parallel to the route. It’s one that Luke concedes looks like ‘despair’ even if a little sadder than it was.
“We were racing pretty hard into this really crucial section and I was right in the front, in the first 20-30wheels or so,” Durbridge said.
“Then this huge gust of wind, one you could pretty much see coming across the field, picked three or four of us up and dumped us into the canal.”
Kindly allowing us inside his head at this moment, the 24-year-old explains the initial panic, but then the reasoning.
“I landed with my feet in the water, my bike was completely submerged and I had landed on my chest so it knocked all of the wind out of me,” he explained. “As I climbed up and sat on the ground there I was just really trying to just compose and get some air in.”
“Once you knock the wind out of you, I guess it’s a little bit scary. You know you are going to be ok in five minutes but you really at that point in time are trying to suck in as much air as possible. You are making all these noises and sort of in a state of panic, panting.
“I guess I just sat there with my head in my hands and tried to create my own little ‘blow in a brown paper bag’ moment like when you have a panic attack, knowing that in time it's all going to be OK.”
With knee pain, concerns of a fractured sternum and bigger race objectives to come, including De Panne a couple of days later, the remainder of his race was completed in the back of an ambulance.
“I sat in the ambulance with four other guys and it was like a battle field,” Durbridge said.
“There was one guy with a dislocated shoulder who got it put back in place while we were with him in the ambulance which was pretty horrendous.
“Gert Steegmans was soaking wet and able to have a bit of a laugh about it and Lars Bak, he was OK but was talking tremendous amounts of smack because he had hit his head.”
Despite the drama and injury concern, the former Australian champion watched from the team bus as Luca Paolini (Team Katusha) won the dramatic race.
His drive and passion for racing is clear for all to witness in his words.
“You are watching it and thinking ‘God I wish I was still out there’,” Durbridge said. “Sure the conditions were horrendous, but if it happened again you would line up and do it all again next year.”
“There is no point where you are glad to not be racing. Next time to just hope you are not the guy in the canal, you the guy racing in the finish in epic conditions.
“Paolini winning that Gent Wevelgem will be one talked about for years – ‘Remember that Gent Wevelgem that Paolini won? That was crazy!’
“That’s what we all thrive to do. That’s the Classics isn’t it? There is something about them.”
…And the bike? Well that was a two-person rescue mission. Clasping hands, sport director Matt Wilson lowered mechanic Fausto Oppici down the bank to retrieve before hauling man and machine to safety.