Durbridge, Hepburn and Kruopis are final signings for GreenEdge roster
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Monday, November 07, 2011

Durbridge, Hepburn and Kruopis are final signings for GreenEdge roster

by VeloNation Press at 7:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
New Australian Team is complete with 30 riders

Luke DurbridgeConfirming earlier rumours, GreenEdge has announced that it has completed its roster with the signings of two starts of the recent under-23 world time trial championships, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn. The duo, who took gold and bronze medals in Denmark, bring the complete lineup of the new team to 30 riders, something which is possible due to the inclusion of several neo-pros.

Durbridge and Hepburn are two of those, being set to make their debut in the professional ranks in 2012. They are moving across from a Team Jayco Skins setup which has close links to the new GreenEdge team. The twenty year olds have been recognised as part of the next generation of Australian riders, and took world championship titles in the team pursuit at this year’s world track championships.

GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan emphasises the importance of a balance between track and road for the duo, at least until next year’s Olympic Games. “Although we’re a road team, part of our mission is to support our riders who have ambitions on the track, particularly Australian riders as we head towards next year’s London Olympics,” he said.

“Luke and Michael will form a critical part of Australia’s hopes to win gold in the team pursuit in London and we want to be part of helping them achieve that.

“They are both also massive talents on the road and any team would want on their roster so we weren’t about to take the risk of giving other teams the chance of signing these guys up before we did.”

Durbridge had a fine year on the road, taking that world under 23 title and also clocking up the prologue and stage five of the Olympias Tour. In addition to those results, he won the Chrono Champenois in France, and took Australian titles in the points race on the track and the time trial on the road.

“When you are a junior coming through the ranks your biggest goal is to turn professional,” he said, speaking about the importance for him of the deal he has signed. “For me to do it after my second year as an under-23 and with such a great team as GreenEdge is unreal. I am really looking forward to learning from the older riders and going in with an open mind. I am willing to learn in all areas as a pro on and off the bike.”

His strong road performances are echoed by those of Hepburn this year. He won stage two of the Tour of Norway, and clocked up the prologue and stage three of the Tour de l’Avenir. In addition to that, he was runner up to his team-mate in both the prologue and stage five of the Olympias Tour, as well as in the Gran Premio della Liberazione in Italy.

He’s keen to get started and to pick up knowledge from some of the older riders on the team. “It will be a big learning curve for me on the road and I want to make the most of riding alongside some of the most experienced guys in the professional peloton,” he said.

“It’s surreal actually to be riding alongside Baden Cooke, Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen because watching those guys on TV battle it out for the green jersey is what inspired me to get into cycling.

“But I also know some of the guys quite well from the track which should make the whole fitting in process a little easier.”

On the subject of the track, he’s clear that London 2012 is a major target for him next season. He said that his choice of team has worked out perfectly in this regard. “GreenEdge is supportive of my track commitments for next year, when the Olympics will be the main aim,” he explained. “But importantly they’re also nurturing my road ambitions.

Durbridge also has big ambitions for velodrome racing. Because of that, track will take precedence over road early on. “My major goal for next year is the team pursuit at the Olympics,” he said. “I’m hoping to make the starting four in London, so my program will be tailored around that.

“After the Olympics I would love to be a part of the team’s time trial world championships, whilst continuing to work on my individual time trial to try and get a start at the worlds for Australia in the near future.”

Further ahead, he said that he wants to build experience and work out what races are best suited to his characteristics. He has a feeling as to where he’s like to shine. “The Classics motivate me,” he said. “We have a great Classics line up to learn from, particularly Stuey O’Grady and the Dutch guys.”

The duo’s focus on the track racing in the first half of the year will see them officially coming on board the GreenEdge team on February 1st rather than one month earlier.

Also coming on board in today’s final announcements pertaining to the men’s team for next year is the Lithuanian Aidis Kruopis. He raced with the Landbouwkrediet squad this year, grabbing a stage victory in the Tour of Belgium plus the 1.1-ranked Schaal Sels. He too is looking to learn from the experienced riders on the team, specifically Robbie McEwen and O’Grady.

The GreenEdge team is aiming to secure a UCI ProTeam licence for 2012.

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