Luke Durbridge finishes stage 7 of the 2022 Vuelta a España flanked by BikeExchange-Jayco teammates Lucas Hamilton and Lawson Craddock.

Calling all Vuelta motos, Turbo Durbo would like a word 

Are motorbikes having too much influence on bike races? Luke Durbridge thinks so.

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Luke Durbridge was one of the many domestiques seen dragging the peloton on Friday’s stage 7 as BikeExchange-Jayco and Trek-Segafredo attempted to haul in the seven-man breakaway. Alas, though the gap seemed under control, especially up the first-category Puerto de San Glorio which was the biggest obstacle for the likes of Kaden Groves and Mads Pedersen, the escape made it all the way to one of few flat finishes left at this year’s Vuelta a España.

After 190 fast kilometres between Camargo and Cistierna, the peloton crossed the line 29 seconds after the winner. Why? ‘Turbo Durbo’ blames the motos.

“The break was strong, they had a good ride, but you can only go so fast, so well done to the breakaway,” a miffed Durbo told SBS immediately after the stage. “That’s modern cycling really. You have to keep the breakaway at one minute because with so many motorbikes, the bunch is just ridiculous.”

Durbridge is one of the most recognisable and respected workhorses in the peloton. A time trial specialist with a fondness for the Classics, the 31-year-old has long been a key rider in BikeExchange-Jayco’s Grand Tour squad, taking on the near thankless task of driving the pace in the peloton – Australia’s answer to Tim Declercq, if you will – so the man is an expert in Breakaway Theory. But like any theory, scientific or otherwise, change is the only constant, and with increasing numbers of in-race vehicles, bike races and breakaways appear to be evolving.

“I mean, we’re nearly sprinting on the front trying to bring the breakaway of seven back, and they’ve been out there nearly 200 km and we can’t even get close to them, so…” he shrugged. “It is what it is. Good job for the breakaway. You use the motorbikes if they’re there, so do we.”

The often negative influence and presence of motorbikes is nothing new – just ask Jack Bauer – and even at this Vuelta, Durbridge is not the first to raise concerns.

“Hello? Could I get the number for the TV moto, please…”

Multiple Grand Tour stage winner Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech) felt that he and his breakaway companions were robbed of any chance of success on stage 4, the first realistic opportunity for an escape to seize their chance over hilly terrain.

Grand Tour debutant Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) called attention to the very same thing in his post-race interview.

“The pace was really high all day,” Hayter said, wrapped in a fresh white jersey. “It was a strong breakaway, but they [TV motos] clearly didn’t want them to win because we sat behind the TV motorbike for the whole race, so the breakaway had no chance and it was full-on all day.”

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