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Orica-GreenEdge’s Durbridge confident future lies on the road

Former Australian national road and time trial champion expects 2015 will be a pivotal year for his career

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While compatriots and fellow track world champions Jack Bobridge (formerly Belkin), Luke Davison (formerly BMC Racing), Glenn O’Shea (formerly An Post-Chain Reaction) have all opted to step down from road racing to focus on the track and Rio 2016, Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge is confident that his future lies on in the WorldTour and has no intention of returning to the velodrome.

“In terms of results, [2014] probably wasn’t my best season on the road,” Durbridge told VeloNews. “But you won’t ever see me back on the track. I can guarantee that. No ‘hour record’ — nothing.

I’ve always loved the road,” the 2013 Australian road and time trial champion added. “Even when I was on the track I loved the road.”

Durbridge cites Australian nationals’ January time slot as a possible reason for his drop in performance this year — smack in the middle of the domestic summer and two weeks prior to the start of the WorldTour season.

“Other countries don’t have to be in form so early in the season to win their nationals,” he said. “Some of the Euros coming out here can’t understand how fit and strong we are in November.

“But having to be in form so early in the season makes for a long year at the office.”

According to Orica-GreenEdge sports director Matt White, Durbridge will be racing a similar race schedule as 2014.

“Durbo will be obviously have a big [Australian] summer before moving on to the classics and both the Giro and the Tour,” White told VeloNews. “But we are going to do our best to get him the time he needs to stay fresh in between races.

One difference the reigning Oceania time trial champion claimed would help is a heavier focus on the national time trial over the road race.

“This year I’m going have a different sort of prep, but still going to go there in really good shape and go for the TT,” said the former U23 world time trial champion and two-time national champ. “I want to get that back. I’ve done a lot of work in the wind tunnel and dialed in my position and going to hopefully bring that back to what it can be.”

The 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner crashed out of the Giro d’Italia after playing a critical role in GreenEdge’s opening stage team time trial win before crashing out on stage 11 and breaking his collarbone before the individual time trial the following day. However Durbridge returned six weeks later to start — and finish — his first Tour de France, an accomplishment he claimed is noteworthy.

“I almost did one and a half grand tours,” said Durbridge. “I was on some really, really good form at the Giro, and I broke my collarbone the day before the second time trial. I was really upset about that.”

“Look, I realize that a lot is expected of me, and there are no acceptable excuses anymore. But I finished my first Tour de France off of four weeks training after breaking my collarbone which you may not see on the outside is a tremendous achievement.

“I can say I’ve done it now, and I know going back what it’s like.”

The 23-year-old from Western Australia feels that his fourth pro year is pivotal and is ready to stake his claim within the team as a bonafide general classification rider.

“I am developing and losing more weight each year,” said the six-foot-two, 172-pound Durbridge. “One-week stage races are probably where I’d like to be, but I enjoy the classics too.

“There are so many variables in the classics, but if I can put myself in decent shape for one-week stage races, you are going to be in good at the classics.”

Editor’s note: Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews