Luke Durbridge took his biggest win of his young career in France in the opening prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Orica-GreenEDGE neo-pro time trialed to victory ahead of Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) and Andriy Grivko (Astana).
Luke Durbridge speeds to victory. Photo Credit: Graham Watson
"I'm really, really happy," said Durbridge. "This is the most important win of my career. The team was fantastic today. They put no pressure on me. They never do. It's been really great. They helped me to develop to a place where I could take this win today."
The nearly flat 5.7 kilometer course in Grenoble featured minimal corners or other technical aspects. Durbridge covered the out-and-back in 6:38, one second faster than Wiggins.
"I had ridden the course beforehand, and I knew the few corners well," explained Durbridge. "I worked really hard during the week with my coach Simon Jones. We focused specifically on the start and gauging my effort. I normally go super hard from the start line, like a trackster, but today I brought it back a little at the start. The tactic paid dividends for me in the long run. I had good legs all the way to the finish."
An early starter, Durbridge spent more than half the race in the virtual 'hot seat' as he waited for the other stage favorites to cross the line.
"I didn't worry about the riders that were to come too much," said Durbridge. "I was just chilling out as I waited. I went to the car for to get my recovery drink. I put on warm clothes, sat around and waited some more. Finally, I went back to the bus with everyone, and we all watched the last couple of riders finish."
Luke Durbridge on the way to his biggest victory. Photo Credit: Graham Watson
"There were about ten of us together, and when Wiggins was out on the course, we worked out the time he would need to have to come through the final corner to unseat me," continued Durbridge. "He came through at the time we had identified, so we knew it would be close. When he crossed the line one second down, the bus erupted. It was a really special moment."
Durbridge is being realistic about the yellow jersey he earned today and knows he might have to let it go again tomorrow; however, he does have his eye on another objective this week.
"There's a mid-week individual time trial," he said. "I want to go well there, too."