LUKE Durbridge has confirmed his standing as the next big thing in Australian road cycling.
The West Australian enhanced his growing reputation by capturing the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships elite men’s road race at Buninyong yesterday.
His powerhouse frontrunning performance over a back-breaking 195.6 kilometres completed a championships double and left his rivals in awe of the 21-year-old.
Durbridge also dominated day one of the titles, taking out the elite men’s time trial at Lake Wendouree and in the Avenue of Honour on Wednesday. This is the first time the elite men’s time trial-road race double has been achieved in the one year in the championships’ modern era.
Durbridge’s domination was capped off by the “King of the Mountain” crown.
His new GreenEDGE teammate Michael Matthews collected his second medal of the championships by leading home a bunch sprint for second – 64 seconds behind Durbridge.
Steele Von Hoff also made it two medals with third.
Matthews was third in the time trial and Von Hoff was second in Thursday night’s criterium in Sturt Street.
Part of a seven-man break from the outset, Durbridge made it a last-man standing affair.
This group stayed together for 130km before ultimately getting down to three with four of the 10km circuits to go – Durbridge, Ballarat’s Pat Shaw and Bernie Sulzberger from Tasmania.
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Shaw finally lost touch going up the climb for the third last time, with the Huon Genesys Wealth Advisers team captain having been a key figure in the shaping the race for more 15,000 roadside spectators and a national television audience.
Such a toll did it take on Shaw that he was unable to finish – being one of the 81 riders from 132 starters to abandon the epic five-hour event.
Sulzberger was the next to be shaken off to finish 10th, but there was no stopping Durbridge, who had the luxury of slowing down to almost walking pace as he celebrated the victory.
A surprisingly fresh looking Durbridge described the win as “amazing”.
“I went through some severe hurt
“I’d die and then I’d come back and then I’d die and then I’d come back.
“I died a thousand deaths out there.
“It was way harder than the time trial,” he said.
‘I can’t believe I’ve done the double.”
Durbridge admitted to feeling some nerves with three laps to go – not long before dropping Shaw.
He said with two to go, he went as hard as he could.
Ballarat Jay Bourke maintained a spot in the peleton throughout to finish 18th.