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“I'll be there. I just had a bit of a sore throat and thought it was not really worth doing the [last race], so I decided to shut it down and have a day's rest,” Durbridge tells Sydney Morning Herald

Photo: Sirotti

LUKE DURBRIDGE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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06.01.2014 @ 15:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) has dismissed suggestions that a sore throat would prevent him from defending his national road race and time trial titles at the Australian Championships later this week. The Australian says that he is feeling at least as good as last year and is looking forward to the Orica-GreenEDGE versus Drapac battle.

 

Luke Durbridge has got his 2014 season off to a start with mixed emotions. In the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, it was a general perception that the youngster was the strongest rider in the race and he proved it when he won the hardest race in Portarlington for the second year in a row.

 

One day later his chance to defend his national road race and time trials crowns when the Australian Championships take place later this week had come under threat. Having woken up with a sore throat, he decided to skip the final race of the series, with sports director Matt Wilson suggesting that the issue could prevent him from lining up in the time trial on Wednesday.

 

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Durbridge has, however, dismissed those suggestions, stating that his sore throat has already abated. He confirms that he will be on the ramp on Wednesday in his quest to take a third consecutive time trial crown and he will line up as part of a strong Orica-GreenEDGE team on Sunday.

 

“I'll be there," he said. "I just had a bit of a sore throat and thought it was not really worth doing the [last race], so I decided to shut it down and have a day's rest."

Durbridge has meticulously prepared for his title defences and the results of is training were evident in the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. He confirmed that he had been encouraged by his form and said that he felt "in as good form, if not better” than this time last year.

 

While he will be the major favourite to win the time trial, the road race will be a more complicated affair. More known for his time trialing skills than his sprint or his climbing legs, Durbridge rarely wins any road races. Last year's win was an exception and with 2012 champion Simon Gerrans who is perfectly suited to the Ardennes-like course, he could find himself playing the domestique role.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE has won the national championships in their first two years but faces tougher competition than ever before. Richie Porte and Cadel Evans have both stated their intentions to win the Tour Down Under and will be coming out with all guns blazing while Drapac has stepped up to pro continental level.

 

Durbridge agrees that the dynamics of the race could change with two big teams on the start line.

 

“Obviously Drapac would love to beat us at the national titles because we have won it the last two years and obviously we would love to win it … to take it to Europe,” he said. “People are trying to build it up as much as possible – Drapac versus GreenEDGE. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. It's going to be good for Australian cycling, having two teams really competitive at this time of year.”

The time trial will kick off the championships on Wednesday, the criterium takes place on Thursday and the event ends on Sunday with the road race.

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