Luke Plapp was surprised to become the new race leader of the UAE Tour after the team time trial, convinced that Remco Evenepoel had taken the red jersey as well as winning the stage with Soudal-QuickStep.
The Australian was still buzzing with the emotion and adrenaline of what he describes as “the best discipline in cycling” and so pulling on the leader’s jersey after an intense ride made for a perfect day.
“I didn’t realise I was leading until they just announced the results, but it’s just such a close race, you can see that with me and Remco are now on even times,” Plapp said with enthusiasm.
“Team time trailing is the best discipline in cycling. It’s a lot of fun coming from a team pursuit background, you get to give it all for about 10 or 15 minutes more than in a team pursuit. Everyone in the team loves it because everyone is involved in the plan. It is the best event in cycling.”
“I loved it out there with the guys, we’ve got a great group, who are ex-team pursuiters too, so it was really smooth out there.”
Plapp and Ineos Grenadiers finished third, three seconds down on Soudal-QuickStep and EF Education-EasPost. The three seconds gap was the same time the Australian had gained during stage 1 and so the hundreds of a second recorded in the time trial decided the race leader. Plapp pulled on the red jersey and will wear it during stage 3 to the Jebel Jais mountain finish.
“It was really close, over 18 minutes, the top five teams were separated by a few seconds,” he said.
“A team time trial adds a lot of excitement to a stage race but also doesn’t mess around with the GC because the times are always so close.”
Plapp powered the Ineos Grenadiers quartet to the finish using his pursuiting and time-trialing skills and praised his teammates for their effort during the out and back 17.3km course around the desolate edge of Khalifa Port.
Ineos Grenadiers’ line-up included veteran triathlete Cam Wurf and junior world time trial champion Josh Tarling.
“The 19-year-old is the strongest guy on our team here. It’s a pleasure to have Josh on our team. He’s such a big boy he’s going to be a future Filippo Ganna,” Plapp said in praise.
“Cam is so experienced too. He’s been in the pro peloton for so long, and he’s really good on the TT bike because he can spend up to 180 km on it. I think we lost the stage win because we didn’t attack the TTT hard enough. It was so fast on the way back that you could only…
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