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Durbridge dominates at cycling nationals
By Roger Vaughan
19:38 AEST Wed Jan 9 2013

Rising star Luke Durbridge continues to showcase his vast potential, successfully defending the elite men's time trial title at the Australian road cycling championships.

The 21-year-old Orica-GreenEDGE rider won the under-23 world time trial two years ago and looms as a once-in-a-generation talent.

"He's one of those talents who can do anything and it's so early in his career," said Durbridge's team director Matt Wilson.

"He doesn't even know what his potential is at this point.

"Certainly he has the ability to do whatever he wants and he has the right head on his shoulders as well."

Second-placed Rohan Dennis said finishing second to Durbridge almost felt like a win.

GreenEDGE, Australia's top professional team, made an immediate impact on day one of the nationals.

Michael Matthews finished third and Shara Gillow won her third-straight time trial national championship.

Gillow is the first rider since the legendary Kathy Watt in 1992-94 to win three-straight elite women's time trials at the nationals.

"When it comes to national titles, everyone expects us to come here and to win," Durbridge said of GreenEDGE.

"Anything but the win is not good enough for Australia's only (top-level) pro team."'

Durbridge blitzed the flat 37km course, which started and finished at Lake Wendouree, in 43 minutes 26.71 seconds.

Dennis was 21.2 seconds off the pace in 43:47:98 and Matthews repeated his 2011 bronze medal in the event when he clocked 44:11:55.

Durbridge's only apparent problem at the moment seems to be pre-race crashes.

After nearly being forced out of last year's Tour Down Under because of an accident, Durbridge also lost some skin on Tuesday when he had a minor crash.

"I'm making a bit of a habit of that, so I've got to stop doing it," Durbridge said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gillow dominated the women's elite time trial.

She won the 29.2km event in 38:36:59, more than a minute clear of Grace Sulzberger's 39:46:23, while 35-year-old newcomer Felicity Wardlaw was a minute and 20 seconds off the pace for third in 39:57:23.

Damian Howson and Ailie McDonald won the under-23 time trials.

For the first time, the time trial nationals were held on a fully-closed course.

Last year, Jack Bobridge fell and hurt his hand when he was caught in a passing truck's slipstream.