Durbridge and Hepburn Complete GreenEDGE Roster
Under-23 world time trial champion, Luke Durbridge, and Michael Hepburn, who won the bronze medal in the same event, will complete the GreenEDGE Cycling team of 30 riders for its debut season in 2012.
Rasmus Christian Quaade (DEN), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Michael Hepburn (AUS) , 2011 U23 Men Time Trial World Championships, Cophenagen
The final signings, both 20, also formed part of the Australian team that won the team pursuit at this year’s track world championships and, according to GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan, joining the new Australian team gives them the best chance of achieving their Olympic dreams while pursuing their respective road careers.
“Although we’re a road team, part of our mission is to support our riders who have ambitions on the track, particular Australian riders as we head towards next year’s London Olympics,” Bannan 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.”
Luke Durbridge, Olympia’s Tour 2011 Prologue Victory, Netherlands
In addition to his convincing win in the under-23 time trial at this year’s world championships, Durbridge also won the prologue and stage five of the Olympias Tour in Holland but is looking forward to stepping up to the elite level.
“When you are a junior coming through the ranks your biggest goal is to turn professional and for me to do it after my second year as an under-23 and with such a great team as GreenEDGE is unreal,” Durbridge said. “I am really looking forward to learning from the older riders and going in with an open mind and am willing to learn in all areas as a pro on and off the bike.”
Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis and Luke Durbridge, World Track Championships Team Pursuit Victory 2011, Netherlands
With the Olympics being his main priority for 2012 Durbridge says he’ll be focusing on the track for the first part of the season.
“My major goal for next year is the team pursuit at the Olympics,” the Western Australian 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.”
Michael Hepburn, Tour de l’Avenir 2011 Prologue Victory
Hepburn’s results on the road are just as impressive. This year he won the prologue and stage three of the Tour de I’Avenir, a race seen as an identifier of future contenders for success at the Tour de France. The Queenslander also won a stage of the Tour of Norway but, like Durbridge, he’s main objective for 2012 will be Olympic success.
“GreenEDGE is supportive of my track commitments for next year, when the Olympics will be the main aim,” Hepburn said, “but importantly they’re also nurturing my road ambitions. 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 experience guys in the professional peloton. 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.”
As for his long-term goals the Queenslander says he plans to “gain experience now and see what sorts of races suit me. The classics motivate me and we have a great classics line up to learn from, particularly Stuey O’Grady and the Dutch guys.”
With training and racing focused on their track ambitions for the first half of the season Durbridge and Hepburn won’t officially join GreenEDGE until 1 February 2012.
Aidis Kruopis, Schaal Sels Victory 2011, Belgium
The team also confirms the signing of Aidis Kruopis. The Lithuanian has produced some impressive results in 2011, as part of the Landbouwkrediet team, including a stage win at the Tour of Belgium and victory in the Schaal Sels, a 1.1 ranked late season Belgian one-day race.
The 25-year-old says joining GreenEDGE will be a great opportunity for him to learn from the experience of Robbie McEwen and Stuart O’Grady and ride alongside Allan Davis, who is a rider he sees himself as having similar attributes to.