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"For sure it will be a steep learning curve. Maybe I’d like to get into the breakaway, up the road and away from all the carnage," Luke Durbridge said.

Photo: Sirotti

CLASSIC BRUGGE-DE PANNE

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LUKE DURBRIDGE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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PARIS - ROUBAIX

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RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN

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01.04.2014 @ 20:20 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Luke Durbridge experienced an early disappointment this season when he failed to defend his title as national time trial champion, finishing runner-up to his team-mate Michael Hepburn. However, the 22-year old Australian slowly rides himself into a proper form what was proved by his aggressive ride in Three Days De Panne first stage today, and hopes to perform well in his debut in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday.

 

Durbridge revealed that he is very excided to become a part of the Orica-GreenEDGE roster for season’s second monument, even though in the same time he acknowledges how brutal the Ronde van Vlaanderen can be. The Driedaagse De Panne’s importance as the Tour of Flander’s build-up event has significantly deteriorated over the last several season’s, but the 22-year old Australian still believes that the three-day event will help him hitting a top disposition for the spring’s second monument.

 

"I’m pretty excited. Well, I am and I’m not. It’s a bit of a scary race, but I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can use De Panne as well to bring me up that little bit more and get me in some good condition for Sunday," a happy Durbridge told Cyclingnews after signing on at the opening stage of the three days of De Panne.

 

Despite some aggressive showings in his last performances, realistic Durbridge is aware that his only chance to excel on the Ronde van Vlaanderen hilly parcours lays in going on attack. The Australian also acknowledges that joining a breakaway is a best way to avoid a carnage, very likely to happen just before the peloton bursts into pieces.

 

"For sure it will be a steep learning curve. I don’t think I can put my hand up and say that I can do this, this and this. Maybe I’d like to get into the breakaway, up the road and away from all the carnage," he says. "We’ve got guys like Daryl Impey, who is coming in for the race, and Jens Keukeleire for that sort of parcours. We don’t have a real favourite, so have to take our chances and get in breakaways and get up the road."

 

"You have to keep doing these races more and more, to get good condition and learn the road. Hopefully in the future I can continue getting better and one day maybe get on the podium in these races."

 

Following his debut in Flemish monument, the former Australian time trial and road race champion is expected to participate in the Paris-Roubaix for the second consecutive season. The 110th place claimed last year in the Hell of the North can’t be considered impressive, however, Durbridge received a late call to join the Orica-GreenEDGE roster for the event while he was riding at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The 22-year old expects to be better prepared this time around.

 

"Now I’ve got an actual bike for it and I’m ready to go," he jokes. "I go back to Spain for a little bit, for a couple of days’ recovery and then right back into it."

 

The young time trialist revealed that without a strong leader in likes of Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) or Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), the Australian WorldTour team will follow exactly the same tactical approach as in the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

 

"It will be the same sort of thing (as Flanders). We don’t have a favourite so we’re going to have to be aggressive and get into some breakaways."

 

Durbridge has showed his eagerness for some aggressive riding in today’s first stage of Driedaagse De Panne when he joined Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) in the unsuccessful yet impressive chase of the leading group after they missed a decisive split in the reduced peloton.

 

This way, the 22-Australian managed to gain some time on his rivals ahead of the decisive time trial, however, he remained rather reluctant to positively assess his chances for the success in the general classification of the tree-day cobbled event.

 

"About eight guys went away and I just missed it and then on the last climb I tried to go across with Arnaud Démare. We almost made got there, but we didn’t quite get there," he told Cyclingnews.

 

"There are still two more really solid road stages to go. I’m just going to take it day by day. At the moment I’m happy with there the legs are."

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