Luke Durbridge and PIeter Weening Talk Giro d'Italia Time Trial

Sat 11 May 2013

Five months ago, when Luke Durbridge learned that he would get his first Grand Tour start at the Giro d’Italia this year, he set a personal objective. He wanted to finish in the top six in the individual time trial. Mission accomplished. The Australian National Time Trial Champion slotted into sixth place on the stage eight time trial, 35” behind stage winner Alex Dowsett (Movistar).

Pieter Weening’s strong form has been apparent during the opening week of the Giro d’Italia. After finishing in the top ten on two hilly stages, Weening started the day in ninth overall. Managing 24th on the stage eight time trial, Weening is in 11th place overall, 1” out of the top ten and 2’50 behind new race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Both Durbridge and Weening share their thoughts on today’s time trial, the first week of the Giro d’Italia and their objectives in the remaining two weeks of the Italian tour.

Luke Durbridge

I was going into the unknown today. I’ve never raced this long previously, and I had never raced a stage race for a week and then had to do a time trial at the end. Last year in the Dauphiné, I finished seventh in a 53 kilometre time trial that came on the fourth stage. I used that to frame some of my expectations.

The time trial today was really long – 54.8 kilometres. I had to be careful not to go out too hard and overcook myself in the first half but at the same time, I wanted to be completely empty when I crossed the line. It’s a fine line between going too hard and not going hard enough.

Today was my only personal objective. I found out in January that I’d likely race the Giro this year. I told my coach that I wanted to aim for a top six in the time trial. On a good ride, on day eight of racing, that seemed like a difficult but attainable goal based on my previous rides in the middle of long stage races. We wrote the objective down, and it’s something I’ve been aiming for all season.

As we got closer to the Giro and had a look at the profile a bit more closely, we realised that today wasn’t really going to suit me as well as we had hoped. It was quite a technical effort with 100 metres of climbing. Despite recognising this, we didn’t change the goal. 

I didn’t really know how I was going while I was out there. I’m never really sure – especially when I start early and when the distance is so long. I crossed the line and thought “Oh, that hurt.” That was really all I knew. I was happy when I heard how I had stacked up against the early finishers, and I’m really happy to come in sixth at the end of the day.

I treated today as a stand alone day. The directors and I have come to sort of an understanding that I’m meant to take the entire race day by day. They would prefer me to have ten really good days and have to pull out because I’m tired than to conserve every single day and not be part of the race. I’m not here to be pack-filler in an attempt to survive the three weeks. I want to make meaningful contributions to the team.

With that in mind, it made sense for me to target the time trial. Both Svein [Tuft] and I had today marked as a goal. We had to take it easy in the few days leading into this stage to give us a chance to really nail it. That’s what we did – and it seemed to have worked out pretty well.

Sixth isn’t a win of course, but I’ve met my goal, and I’m getting closer to where I want to be in these sorts of races. I’m especially happy with my result after a really disappointing ride at Romandie less than two weeks ago. It made me nervous that my goal here was a bit too optimistic. My result today confirms that it was not. I’m in good shape, and hopefully I can support my teammates all the way to the finish.

I have no ambitions for the second individual time trial. Anyone who thinks I might probably hasn’t looked at the profile. It’s 19 kilometres uphill, so no – not a chance. I might be on the other end of the scale of that one, trying to get inside the time cut. 80 kilos does not go very fast uphill. I’ll go out there and ride it hard, but it’s definitely not something I’m targeting.

We’ve done pretty well nailing the team plan during the first week of racing. Obviously the results haven’t come as we would have wanted. I’m confident that Gossy would have been first, or second at worse, on the day he crashed. We nailed the plan perfectly that day. A stage win there could have changed our whole Giro, but, hey, that’s cycling.

We’re going well as a team. Obviously, we’d like to better. There are still some stages where it’s possible for Gossy get his sprint on, and if Pete doesn’t ride for GC, he’s always up to have a go. Jens Keukeleire is going quite well, too. We still have plenty more to come at this Giro. We won’t be content to sit back and let the race unfold in front of us. We haven’t won a stage yet, and that’s the main objective. If we win a stage, we’ll be able to call this a successful Giro. Until that point, we need to keep fighting for it.

Pieter Weening

My goal today was to do as good as possible in the time trial. I wanted to try not to lose time on the big favourites on the overall. It’s not my main objective to ride a good GC here at the Giro, but as long as I can stay in the 10-20 position, I can think about it. Maybe there’s an opportunity to get in the break and ride for the day’s success, and I can come back into the top ten again that way. I’m happy with my time trial since I didn’t lose too much time. Things look good for the next two weeks of racing.

The first section of the time trial really suited me. It was constantly up and down with many corners. That’s perfect for me. The second half included 15 kilometres of dead flat roads, and this isn’t for me. I had to work hard to keep the focus. The very end was quite heavy with a really steep climb to the finish. I think everyone was suffering over that. I definitely was.

Personally, I’m happy with my first eight stages here. I’ve gotten quite good results with two top tens, and the team has been good in supporting me to these results. I stayed on my bike, and that’s also a good thing. You never know what can happen at any bike race but especially at a Grand Tour.