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West Australia's Luke Durbridge today got the Cyclones World Championships' campaign off to a sensational start with a silver medal performance in the under 23 men's time trial in Geelong.
American Taylor Phinney claimed the gold medal by an agonising 1.9sec with Germany's Marcel Kittel third, 24.01sec slower than Phinney.
Durbridge's results makes him the youngest rider in history to claim a medal in the under 23 time trial at a World Championships. At just 19 years old Durbridge is 33 days younger than Swiss three time World Champion Fabian Cancellara who was second in the same event in 2000.
“Wow I didn’t know that, I think it will take time to sink in but it is a bit surreal at the moment,” said Durbridge, who was last year's time trial gold medalist at the Junior World Championships.
One of the first riders to complete the 31.6 kilometre course around Geelong, Durbridge set a blistering pace clocking the fastest lap time of the day.
“When I came in, I had so long to wait in that position, so I was not going to get my hopes up,” said Durbridge.
While Durbridge’s time was set in somewhat slippery road conditions Phinney had the advantage of sunny skies and dry roads when he left the start gate close to two hours later.
“I was so close but hey, I am stoked with silver at my first senior worlds," said Durbridge. "My family is here, it is a wonderful feeling.
“I know I went really hard in the first lap, but when I was 17 seconds faster than Taylor at the halfway point, I thought this could be medal here and started to get really excited.
“When he came in 1.9 (seconds) faster, I was disappointed, but to hold on for second, it is unbelievable,” said Durbridge, who will now turn his attention to Friday’s road race.
South Australia’s Rohan Dennis was in line for a podium finish after finishing his ride with the second best time of the day behind Durbridge.
However, after all the riders had completed the course, Dennis had dropped to fifth place.
“I had a feeling that Phinney would be up there, and although I didn’t finish on the podium, I am still really happy with this result,” said Dennis.
“It was the toughest course I have ever done for a time trial, I tried to hold back in the first lap a little bit and come home strong, but I am pretty happy I left everything out on the road, I basically I did everything I could,” added Dennis.
In the elite womens time trial, Queensland’s Shara Gillow was the best placed of the Australians finishing eighth.
The twenty-two-year-old averaged 40.203km per hour around the 22.7kilometre course to record a time of 34minutes 1.62seconds, one minute and thirteen seconds behind winner Emma Pooley of Great Britain.
“I went my hardest, just didn’t have that little bit more but I am very happy with that result,” said Gillow, who thanked the home crowd for their support during her race. “Going around and up every bend with the people shouting was just amazing, it gave us all that little bit extra, it was fantastic.”
Canberra’s Vicki Whitelaw (35minutes7.75seconds) finished eighteenth, whilst South Australia’s Alexis Rhodes (35minutes12.22seconds) was nineteenth.
“This year I have broken back into the top twenty and a top ten would have been nice, but at least I have been consistent,” said Whitelaw.
“(Today) it wasn’t a factor of not knowing the course as we have been practicing this course since February,” explained Whitelaw, adding, “There were positive sections today where I rode really strongly, but also some parts I really slumped, like at the start and I also thought I wasn’t climbing efficiently.”
Rhodes, who will now head to the Commonwealth Games, was disappointed with her result.
“I wanted to run top ten and ended up nineteenth which is pretty disappointing, but there are 18 girls who are better than me which is just the way it is I guess.
“I will now focus on the time trial and road race for the Games and I would like to redeem myself from today’s ride,” she added.