• Luke Durbridge and the Mitchelton Scott on the Thursday Roubaix recon. (Getty)Source: Getty
Luke Durbridge has discounted a contested complaint from world champion Peter Sagan as he readies for battle against Quick-Step and the rest of the peloton at Paris-Roubaix.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
8 Apr 2018 - 10:46 AM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2018 - 10:49 AM

The might of the Belgian team ahead of the 257km Monument has been as much a talking point as the weather, which made for a sketchy course reconnaissance this week.

“It would be hard to look past Quick-Step to not have someone up there. I think everyone will be either racing against Quick-Step, or everyone is racing against each other for someone behind Quick-Step,” Durbridge said.

The 26-year-old will start his career sixth Paris-Roubaix on Sunday working foremost for Quick-Step rival turned Mitchelton-Scott teammate Matteo Trentin.

Trentin, 28, has a sure understanding of the inner workings of his former squad, whose stranglehold on the cobbled classics this season has maddened Sagan.

Following the Tour of Flanders last week, the BORA-hansgrohe leader lambasted the peloton for not collectively doing enough to co-operate with him and disrupt the unit.

Speaking to Cycling Central on the eve of the race, Durbridge believed the observation, which retired four-time Roubaix winner Tom Boonen slammed, was irrelevant.

“It’s a weird comment because if more people wanted to get up there and combat Quick-Step they would, but they can’t,” he said. “Peter is probably not understanding of how strong he is and doesn’t understand that people just can’t be there like he can.

“The race has been that hard and that’s the selection. It’s not anyone’s choice that BMC don’t have four guys there, or Sagan doesn’t have five teammates there. It’s not, ‘Oh we just didn’t want to be there,’ it’s just not a choice. I’m not sure how that comment would be relevant because if they wanted more men up there, Bora, they would but they couldn’t because Quick-Step are so strong at the moment.”

Paris-Roubaix shapshot: Quick-Step Floors versus everyone?
The course of the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix will stretch for 257 km and feature no fewer than 29 cobblestone sectors totalling 54.5 km. The race will be streaming live right here at Cycling Central and via the SBSOnDemand apps on Sunday 8 April from 6:45pm AEST and 9:30pm AEST on SBS Viceland.

Outside of assisting Trentin, Durbridge will have a free role along with veteran teammate and 2016 race winner Mathew Hayman.

The “hot topic” weather forecast for Sunday is currently 21C and fine, but Durbridge was among many riders that took a risk doing recon in wet and muddy conditions on Thursday.

“On the recon it was pretty ridiculous, it was like ice skating out there. We did a few sections and you either just unclipped or hit the ground,” he said.

“I can just imagine what would happen if you come into Arenberg with 200 guys at 70km/h and the third person crashes.”

Mitchelton-Scott has thus far had an unremarkable cobbled classics campaign but Durbridge is confident it can turn the tables this weekend, and meet Quick-Step “in terms of taking control of the race”.

“Our results have always come from being smart, or a couple of individuals getting up there and doing quite a good ride in these races because it’s so hard to be as a team,” Durbridge explained.

“There’s probably only one team that actually get together as a team in these races and that’s Quick-Step. Everyone just waits for them to do that. We are trying to learn from Matteo to say we can do the same thing and put five guys in the front, rather than two.”

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Outside of Quick-Step, Durbridge pointed to Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale) as a danger man for the win.

The Australian himself has been based in Gent, Belgium over the period through which he has endured a share of bad luck.

Durbridge also reasoned his form might not be as good as this time last year due to a crash at January’s national road championships where he was sidelined for more than a month with a broken collarbone.

“January can have a compound effect,” he said. “I get back to a good level but I’m still missing a couple of per cent, which then when there is a problem in the race means you can’t actually come back.”

Durbridge was suffering from minor flu symptoms on Saturday, but nothing of concern.
“I’ll be good on Sunday and look forward to getting a run and giving it one last bash for the classics season. I think we have a good team for it,” he said.


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