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Luke Durbridge on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix
His girlfriend Lara had queried him about his use of a word during an interview following his win in the TT of the Driedaagse de Panne. Luke Dubridge admitted to being “elated” about the victory. She teased him a little. And they laughed.
Before Durbridge told that little story, I’d said that he was a “particularly verbatim speaker”. He said, “Thank you. What’s that?”
“You tell it like it is.”
“Okay. Yes, I suppose I do.”
“And there’s little editing required.”
“Is that good?”
Durbridge can absolutely tell a story well. We begin our formal interview asking about being “elated” and he goes on to explain, in a lot of detail, the kind of thinking that goes into preparing for a Classic encounter.
He finished 11th overall in Driedaagse de Panne. He is one of the in-form riders of the moment. He has a passion for the Classics. He is ready for what promises to be an exciting edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
And we recorded some of our discussion for prosperity.
“I was pretty happy to get the win. It’s been a while since drinks so I’m happy to get on the top step.”
…does he feel like he could be up there vying for the title in the Ronde van Vlaanderen?
“I guess everything has been tracking well. I’m am definitely not a favourite. I think, like I said [to] a couple of questions before about the Ronde van Vlaanderen by different interviewers… they were saying, ‘Do you see yourself as a favourite? Or a top five? Or a…’ pretty much putting me down [for] a result.
“But for me it’s not about the result. It’s about putting myself in the right move, making the right decisions, make the right attack or pick the right time to go. And race in the front.
“That’s pretty much the mentality I’ve had the last couple of weeks.
“Sometimes the race-winning move is going 80km from the finish line now, so you literally have to be [at] the front, ready to go at any time. And you just have to react to what the race is doing.
“For me, I’ll be really happy with myself if I put myself in the right position at the right time and I react and pick the right move. And then, who knows?
“You can’t go in going, ‘Oh, I want to run fifth…’ or top 10 or podium or win or this or that.
“I have to consistently race in the front for me to understand how to win it and also for me to make the right call. On Sunday, that’s what I’m going in with the mentality of… ‘Going to make the front…’ and then? Who knows? Maybe I’ll attack and throw my hands in the air. That’d be unbelievable.”
* * * * *
“I’m just riding off some confidence. I don’t think I’m seeing any bigger numbers than I ever have before, or better PBs in terms of power output or anything like that. I’m actually just riding smarter and being able to put out what I can put out when it matters.”
* * * * *
“Flanders is the biggest race of this period because all the races we do leading up are like mini-Flanders, you know? We do lots of races all around the same area… and the Flemish people of Belgians… here it’s just the biggest thing.
“Yesterday, after the Three Days of the Panne, there was this massive after party. I’ve never seen so many people getting pissed in the middle of the street on a Thursday – all because of Three Days of the Panne. It was a bit… it was quite hilarious.
“I was thinking, ‘Only in Belgium…’”
* * * * *
“It’s unbelievable. The break can literally go and, as soon as the break goes, the team goes straight to the front and we start riding position.
“So, if you can’t piss on the bike you might not even be able to do a piss in six hours. It’s just like: you don’t stop!
“I think that’s probably suiting me better because when ‘Phil’ starts to go, or Van Avermaet, or these big punchy riders start to go, the actual edge has been taking off.
“If it was a fresh effort, I wouldn’t be able to hold the wheel…
“That’s just not my physiology to be able to put out one or two minutes like that. But if the race has been, constantly, 300, 350 watts the whole time, and then you go and do an effort? My effort doesn’t really change: my one and two minute effort doesn’t change. It’s always pretty much the same even if I’ve done four or five hours, so… but theirs might significantly come down so I can hold the wheel.”
[Hear the rest of the exchange on RIDE Media’s SoundCloud channel.]
– Interview by Rob Arnold
(Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)