Luke Plapp led a clean sweep of the men’s elite time trial podium for Jayco-AlUla at the Federation University Australian Road National Championships on Thursday, with the 23-year-old reclaiming the title even though he had to swap his bike due to a mechanical.
Chris Harper was second, 32 seconds back, while Michael Hepburn completed the podium, the only other rider within a minute. However, that’s not where Jayco-AlUla’s domination of the race against the clock ended with Kelland O’Brien also sweeping up fourth place.
The time trial played out over 37.5km, two laps of an 18.9km course with 228m of elevation gain on each. It was among the opening events of the National Championships, which continues with the criteriums on Friday and road races on Saturday and Sunday.
Plapp, the two-time road champion, headed into the event determined to reclaim the title, having suffered a mechanical in 2023, when he came fourth behind Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates). Plapp left Ineos Grenadiers to join Jayco-AlUla and wasn’t going to let the same problem stop him this time.
“It was the exact same spot, the exact same lap as last year,” Plapp said at Mount Helen, near Ballarat, but it certainly was not the same outcome.
“I think last year I got over excited and tried to make up for it and I just wasn’t mature enough and I really think I learnt from that and was able to stick to the processes and we got it done in the end.”
Not that it wasn’t difficult to stay contained in that moment, with Plapp quick to admit that at the time there may have been more than the odd swear word rolling through his mind.
“I did get a bit overwhelmed, but [Matthew] Hayman on the radio was really cool calm and collected and I sort of just trusted the training,” said Plapp.
“We trained a lot without power actually in case something happened and it was really nice knowing that I had that in the background and I knew my sensations and what power I had to hold.”
More to come.
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