Durbridge sends message to Tokyo selectors

Shayne Hope
Luke Durbridge has upset two-time world champion Rohan Dennis at the national cycling championships

Luke Durbridge has demanded Australian selectors hand him a time trial spot at the Tokyo Olympics after upsetting reigning two-time world champion Rohan Dennis for the second straight year at the national championships.

The affable West Australian rider scored another commanding win over Dennis in Ballarat, exploding in the second half of the tough new 37.5km course around Federation University.

The pair were virtually inseparable at the halfway point, but Durbridge stepped on the gas to cross the line 17.5 seconds faster than his rival.

He stopped the clock at 46 minutes 18.80 seconds.

"Every year I come here I'm super motivated and I'm a proud Aussie," Durbridge said.

"Rohan is the world champion and obviously he's the world's best. What better way to compare myself to the field than trying to beat Rohan.

"Rohan makes me pick my level up and I think with the Olympics this year, Rohan's world champion and we have two spots.

"I'd just really like to see that Australia could respect those two spots because I think Rohan and I both deserve them.

"Hopefully the selectors see it that way and we can go to the Olympics."

The victory was Durbridge's fourth time trial national title, marking a strong response after the Mitchelton-Scott rider finished outside the top 10 at the world championships last September.

"We messed up the worlds a little bit," Durbridge said.

"I was in good shape but I didn't tactically ride my best race there.

"But I know I can do it, I know I can be up there with the best.

"Fair credit to Rohan, he always makes me step up my level and hopefully we can drive each other towards some good things to come."

Dennis, a three-time national champion, returned to Ballarat as the man to beat and is the gold medal favourite for Tokyo despite a turbulent 2019 campaign.

The 29-year-old finished second behind Durbridge in 46 minutes 36.30 seconds in his first appearance for his new team, Ineos, having signed a two-year deal last month.

He was a whopping one minute 25 seconds faster than third-placed Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma).

Durbridge will bypass Friday's criterium event before entering the road race as part of the powerful Mitchelton-Scott outfit.

"I'm always motivated to get in that breakaway and get up the road and show everyone my caked-in-salt jersey," Durbridge said.

"We've got a good team here and last year my brother-in-law (Michael Freiberg) got the better of our team, so hopefully we can get it back in the team and take it over to Europe."