Reigning under 23 time trial world champion Luke Durbridge has made a stunning senior debut winning the Australian elite men’s time-trial crown, while Queensland’s Shara Gillow and South Australia’s Rohan Dennis dominated their opponents to claim the women’s and under 23 titles at the 2012 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships in Learmonth.
One of the strongest fields ever assembled for an Australian time trial championships battle cold and blustery conditions throughout the 38.2kilometre course around Learmonth, an hour outside of Ballarat.
Durbridge used his six-foot-plus frame to his advantage, countering the tough crosswinds throughout his ride in which he average 49.47km/h to record a time of 46:20.44.
“To win the national titles, in this field, in my first year in the professional tour is amazing,” exclaimed GreenEDGE’s Durbridge, 20, who claimed the under 23 time trial world title at the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen last September.
“I am a very passionate Australian and to be able to wear the green and gold and represent my country throughout the whole year, I just can’t be happier.
“It hasn’t really sunk it yet,” Durbridge said.
Two-time defending champion Cameron Meyer finished seven seconds behind his West Australian GreenEDGE teammate, stopping the clock in 46:27.40 to take the silver medal.
Triple world and 2009 national time-trial champion Michael Rogers (Team Sky) finished a further nine seconds and took the bronze medal with a time of 46:36.30.
South Australia’s Jack Bobridge, 2011 Australian’s men’s road race champion and time trial silver medalist, crashed out of the race after a gust of wind unsettled the GreenEDGE rider’s wheels inside the first kilometre.
Suffering a number of skin abrasions, Bobridge was later transported to hospital for precautionary x-rays and scans.
The fourth last of 40 starters to head out onto the course, Durbridge knew the race would be punishing.
“I went really hard at the start, but I sort of ran out of gears down the back straight,” he explained.
“I think I was going sixty plus kilometres an hour, but as soon as I turned left into the head wind, I thought my time trial was over.
“All my watts dropped and I started to feel terrible, but Stevo (Neil Stephens) just talked me through it and told me I just had to ride through the section.
“Then, once I could see Luke Roberts and Mick Rogers ahead of me, I went as hard as I could at the top of the hill which was five kilometre to the finish.
“Stevo was in my ear the whole way and it was getting quite annoying actually, I just wanted to finish,” Durbridge joked.
Shortly after the race, Durbridge was still coming to terms with the victory considering the strong field.
“I knew I would be thereabouts, but I knew everyone was coming in with really good form, so I knew if I had won, I would be up there,” Durbridge said.
“As you can see it was only sixteen seconds between second and first.
“Cam is my mate and Mick on the other hand was one of my idols when I was younger, so what can I say, today was my day and it worked out well for me and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
Durbridge, who turns 21 in April, was eligible to contest the 2012 season in the under 23 category before signing with the GreenEDGE professional team.
“Riding under 23, it would have been fantastic knowing I could ride this year with the rainbow jersey,” explained Durbridge.
“But I decided to ride pro for this year and hopefully will be for the next ten years or so.
“I think I made the right decision,” Durbridge added.
Defending champion Meyer was disappointed with his performances, but took nothing away from his teammate.
“Obviously, seven seconds, you’re disappointed in some ways and you think ‘where did that seven seconds come from, why didn’t you push a little bit harder in different areas,” Meyer said.
“(But) Luke was definitely the man today, he showed he has very good form and he showed that in the road race.
“It’s definitely a healthy sign for Australian time triallng,” he added.
Similarly Michael Rogers, who claimed three consecutive time world titles between 2003 and 2005, was full of praise for his younger opponent.
“Hats off to Luke, he’s ridden well and it was tough out there,” said Rogers, the 2009 Australian time trial champion.
“It was certainly tough with that wind, it was a real slog. But hats off to Luke, he’s was the strongest out there,” Rogers added.
2012 Australian Road National Championships (2012) - Elite Mens TT
Date: Tue, 10th January 2012
Rider Time Gap
1. 23 Luke DURBRIDGE (WA) 46:20.44 average speed 49.47 km/h
2. 2 Cameron MEYER (WA) 46:27.40 +7
3. 11 Michael ROGERS (ACT) 46:36.30 +16
4. 39 Michael HEPBURN (QLD) 47:30.55 +1:10
5. 15 Richie PORTE (TAS) 47:39.38 +1:19
6. 52 Cameron WURF (TAS) 47:39.97 +1:19
7. 10 Travis MEYER (WA) 48:42.27 +2:22
8. 22 William CLARKE (TAS) 48:43.21 +2:23
9. 27 Luke ROBERTS (SA) 48:49.57 +2:29
10. 43 Jack ANDERSON (QLD) 49:32.39 +3:12
11. 80 Adam HANSEN (QLD) 49:40.55 +3:20
12. 171 Marc WILLIAMS (ACT) 50:25.01 +4:05
13. 67 Jacob KAUFFMANN (NSW) 50:25.34 +4:05
14. 65 Nick BENSLEY (VIC) 50:54.11 +4:34
15. 38 Ben DYBALL (NSW) 51:04.54 +4:44
16. 79 David KELLY (VIC) 51:26.85 +5:06
17. 62 Michael GALLAGHER (VIC) 51:31.80 +5:11
18. 47 Andrew ROE (SA) 51:35.96 +5:15
19. 170 Jason SPENCER (VIC) 51:46.65 +5:26
20. 74 Matthew WARNER-SMITH (NSW) 51:52.77 +5:32
21. 60 Correy EDMED (QLD) 52:01.19 +5:41
22. 59 Samuel RIX (VIC) 52:08.06 +5:48
23. 166 Michael CUPITT (QLD) 52:09.91 +5:49
24. 57 Benjamin JOHNSON (VIC) 52:12.64 +5:52
25. 54 Jonathan LOVELOCK (VIC) 52:37.89 +6:17
26. 61 Nicholas WOOD (SA) 52:55.34 +6:35
27. 64 Michael VERHEYEN (WA) 53:06.03 +6:46
28. 63 Mark FENNER (NSW) 53:12.17 +6:52
29. 68 Tom DONALD (VIC) 54:14.88 +7:54
30. 78 Chris PRYOR (QLD) 55:07.63 +8:47
31. 55 Brodie TALBOT (NSW) 55:31.03 +9:11
32. 69 David FAIRBURN (VIC) 57:37.73 +11:17
33. 70 Adam THOMPSON (SA) 58:55.48 +12:35
34. 66 Wayne GEBERT (VIC) 59:27.76 +13:07
35. 76 Reece-Emerson VAN BEEK (VIC) 59:56.04 +13:36
36. 71 Mark FACEY (VIC) 1h00:36.33 +14:16
37. 72 Adnane BENHAMMOUCHE (SA) 1h01:35.56 +15:15
38. 75 Trevor SMITH (NSW) 1h02:33.73 +16:13
39. 73 Brett COTTEE (NSW) 1h10:44.76 +24:24
dnf 1 Jack BOBRIDGE (SA)
dns 36 Kane WALKER (VIC)
dns 58 James IBRAHIM (VIC)
dns 49 Ben MATHER (TAS)
dns 77 David PELL (VIC)
dns 172 Blair WINDSOR (NSW)
dns 45 Damien TURNER (VIC)
dns 140 Brock ROBERTS (NSW)
dns 53 Anthony GIACOPPO (WA)
dns 167 Peter HERZIG (QLD)
Average speed of the winner: 49.47 km/h
Number of starters: 40
Riders abandoning the race: 1