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Durbridge attracts big cycling wraps
By Roger Vaughan
20:01 AEST Sun Jan 13 2013

Luke Durbridge has received the ultimate cycling accolade, with his stunning form prompting comparison to Brad Wiggins.

The 21-year-old West Australian capped the GreenEDGE domination of this year's national road cycling championships when he won the elite men's road race on Sunday.

His victory means Orica-GreenEDGE and their women's team Orica-AIS won five of the six senior Australian road titles this year.

Durbridge's storming ride at Buninyong near Ballarat also earned him the extremely rare feat of winning the elite men's road race and time trial at the same national championships.

No one has done the men's "double" since the road nationals were revamped in 1999 and cycling records are unclear as to when it last happened.

Durbridge was also on his own for the last 20km of the 195km road race, having been part of a seven-rider break that went clear only 5km into the event.

It is one of the great rides at the nationals, comparable to Jack Bobridge's solo attack that won the men's road race two years ago.

Orica-GreenEDGE director Matt Wilson said while some in the sport were comparing Durbridge to Swiss time trial ace Fabian Cancellara, they should also consider Wiggins, the Tour de France champion and Olympic gold medallist.

"He's an absolute, phenomenal talent - whatever he sets his mind to, he'll be able to do," Wilson said.

"People compare him to Cancellara, but I think possibly he's more of a Brad Wiggins.

"He has a real climbing ability and he's so young, he doesn't know what his limits are at the moment."

Two years ago, Durbridge won the under-23 world time trial championship and was also part of the teams pursuit squad on the track that won the world championship.

Orica-GreenEDGE are still new and want to develop contenders for Grand Tours such as the Tour de France from within.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that over the next decade, Durbridge could become one of those riders.

"Maybe - we have to give it a bit of time to find out," Wilson said.

The original break of seven was whittled down until Durbridge and Tasmanian Bernie Sulzberger were the only two left with 20km to go.

Durbridge then dropped Sulzberger on the second-last climb and then hung on grimly, winning by a minute and four seconds.

Teammate Michael Matthews won the sprint for second ahead of Steele Von Hoff.

"It was amazing - I went through some severe hurt ... but it was a special moment for me," Durbridge said.

"I'd die and then I'd come back and then I'd die and then I'd come back.

"I died a thousand deaths out there and it was way harder than the time trial.

"I have to wait for it to sink in ... I can't believe I've done the double.

Durbridge and Matthews are now expected to join the Orica-GreenEDGE for the Tour Down Under later this month in Adelaide.

Sulzberger, who also impressed with his form on Sunday, will ride at the Adelaide Tour in the UniSA composite team.