Road world championships: Luke Durbridge takes U23 time trial

Australia finish with two gold medals after day one

Top favourite Luke Durbridge of Australia lived up to his pre-race status and stormed his way to victory in the under 23 men's time trial world championship.

"Durbo the turbo" was fastest at all the time splits and won the world title with a time of 42:47 for the 35.2km two-lap course in central Copenhagen. He was the only rider to break the 43-minute barrier.

Rasmus Christian Quaade (Denmark) finished second with a time of 43:22, while Michael Hepburn (Australia) took the bronze medal with a time of 43:33, despite crashing on a corner.

"It's hard to explain. I'm so happy that I'm struggling to put a sentence together," Durbridge said before climbing on the podium to pull on the rainbow jersey.

"Congratulations to Quaade and Hepburn. It's fantastic to have two Australians on the podium. We planned this out for the last six months and for it to come together is the tricky part. I had good form and knew could do it but everything had to go right."

"About a lap in, I was 20 seconds up and then 25 seconds. James (from the team car) told me to keep concentrating and I had little bit of blurred vision because I started fast. But the course suited me and it was just about grinding it out on the flat. In the last 10km, I started to enjoy it. I knew I was up and only had to stay up and bring it home."

Durbridge in action

Bumps and a crash along the way

The course presented some unexpected difficulties. There were numerous speed bumps along the way. A cobblestoned passage through a courtyard bumped not only the riders but caused a number of gear chains to bobble off as well. Transponders went flying as well on various obstacles. A more serious problem was the that the entire course was not blocked off, and at least Dutch rider had a near collision with a "civilian" cyclist on the course.

Damien Howson of Australia was one of the first riders off, and he set a blistering time of 44:53.09 This time held only until Russian Anton Vorobev, one of the favourites but also an early starter, came in at 43:46.12.

Michael Hepburn of Australia was also favoured for a medal, and set a new best time halfway time. But he appeared to be pushing too hard, one time going up on a pavement after a turn. The final blow came when he took a left hand turn too fast, had his front wheel slip away and down he went. A ripped kit was not the least of his worries, as he had to change bikes as well.

He looked to have lost confidence as he went on his way, taking the corners with more care. Still, he was fast enough to take over the lead at the finish with a time of 43:33.60, or 12 seconds faster than Vorobev. And in the end it proved enough to provide him with a bronze medal.

The field was divided into five groups, with Hepburn being an early starter and the other favourites in the final group. Quaade, the first rider in the final group was cheered on by the homeland fans as he set good times at the intermediate checks. He appeared to have gone out too fast though, as he soon fell back. He was able to take advantage of Hepburn's time loss through his crash, though, and set a new best time at the finish.

It was nowhere enough, though, as Durbridge rolled smoothly along, topping all the intermediate times and passing one rival after another. The 20-year-old raised a fist as he crossed the finish line to easily claim his second world title, having won the junior time trial in 2009.

Durbridge’s win completed a double for Australia on the first day of the 2011 World Championships, after Jessica Allen won the Junior Women’s time trial earlier in the day.

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

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