MORE accustomed to beating a clock than a bunch, national time-trial champion Luke Durbridge excelled in the unfamiliar territory, giving the men's Orica-GreenEDGE team its first Bay Cycling Classic stage victory.
Durbridge was the solo leader early in the race and then was part of an international three-man breakaway that gained a healthy advantage on the peloton on the punishing Portarlington criterium and middle stage of the Bay Classic. He made his winning move before the bell lap.
The late attack in the hour-long circuit race on Wednesday saw the 21-year-old professional finish two seconds clear of former British road champion Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) and New Zealander James Oram (Grays Online).
"I don't get to win too many bunch races," Durbridge said after an animated crossing of the finish line.
"You can't really come across the line like that in time trials unless you're (Fabian) Cancellara so I was pretty happy, I guess - maybe a little bit too happy."
A sixth placing for Caleb Ewan (Bikebug) in Portarlington was enough to put the 18-year-old sprint star in the yellow jersey for the final criterium in Williamstown, where he should collect overall honours. Ewan won the Williamstown criterium last year.
Durbridge, the 2011 under-23 world time-trial champion, is eager to defend his national title in the discipline in Ballarat next week.
"I did some really good training over December, but you never really know how you feel because that hot-dog crit in Geelong (for stage one of the Bay Classic) is never really a good gauge of how your form is," he said.
Durbridge will also start the road race at the national road championships, playing a support role for Orica-GreenEDGE teammates - most likely Simon Gerrans or Matt Goss - who will try to claim the title in the long event. Durbridge will then travel to Malaysia for the Tour of Langkawi before hitting Europe.
RESULTS Bay Cycling Classic
1 Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) 12 points
2 Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) 10 points
3 James Oram (Grays Online) 8 points
1 Caleb Ewan NSW (Bikebug) 17 points
2 Luke Durbridge WA (Orica-GreenEDGE) 12 points
3 Graham Briggs GBR (GBR national team) 11 points