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Luke Durbridge Cracks De Panne Top Ten Overall After Stage Two

Wed 2 Apr 2014

Luke Durbridge jumped up four spots on the general classification, moving to ninth overall, following the second stage of VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde on Wednesday. The lone ORICA-GreenEDGE rider was part of a 32 strong front group that formed when the peloton split over the Kemmelberg and later went on to reabsorb the early break.

Stage one winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) missed the split and eventually retired from the peloton that crossed the finish line 3’17 behind Durbridge and company while Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) assumed the race lead. With one double day of racing remaining, Durbridge sits within 20” of the overall lead.

“It was a solid day again,” said Durbridge. “The break took awhile to get away, so it was very fast at the start. In the middle of the stage, we went up the Kemmelberg. From that point one, things were very dangerous at the front. I managed to make it over the Kemmel in the front group. The peloton split up after that. Maybe thirty or so riders went away. That was it. We rode all the way to the finish line.”

When the splits began, the early escape group of seven had more than four minutes in hand on the newly formed chase. Durbridge’s group collaborated well to bridge the gap. Sixty kilometres from the finish, the chasers overtook the breakaway.

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Oscar Gatto (Cannondale) broke away from the leaders following the final intermediate sprint. The trio had 26” over the chasers with 16 kilometres left to race.

“I had to play a bit of poker,” said Durbridge. “I was the only one from the team in there, and I had to hope the others would do the work so that I wouldn’t lose time. It went okay for me in the end. It all came back for a bunch sprint, which was what I wanted.”

Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) emerged victorious in the fast finale, outsprinting Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in Koksijde. Durbridge rolled across in 18th place, on the same time as the stage winner.

“These last two days put me in a good position for tomorrow,” said Durbridge. “Obviously there’s still one more sketchy road stage left. Fingers crossed I can stay on bunch time in the morning and then see what I can produce in the time trial in the afternoon.”

“The legs are good,” Durbridge added. “The last week has taken a lot out of me, but it’s taken a lot out of me because it’s been so, so aggressive. I know that if my legs are hurting, other people’s legs are hurting, too. I’m tried – and so is everyone else.” 

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