Luke Plapp’s long-awaited arrival at Ineos Grenadiers has been confirmed with the Australian national time trial champion signing a multiple-year contract to join the British WorldTour team. Plapp will link up with his new squad from August 1 as a stagiaire rather than wait until 2022 to make his debut.
Currently in Tokyo for the Olympic Games, where he will compete on the track, Plapp said that the move to Ineos was the perfect outcome after he gained interest from several WorldTour teams in light of his impressive results from Australia's summer of racing.
“It’s the team [INEOS Grenadiers] that everyone dreams of going to, it’s one I especially dreamt of going to, then when everything was signed it felt kinda crazy that it’s all going ahead,” Plapp said.
Plapp and Ineos firmly believe that his background on the track and in time trials fits with the calibre of rider that has come through and developed at the team since their founding in 2010 as Team Sky.
“I look at other cyclists who have had great success and transitioned from track to road. You look at how G [Geraint Thomas] went from track to being a Grand Tour winner, and this is what gave me the encouragement to stick at the track seeing how that can then translate into success on the road.”
Just 20 years of age, Plapp won the Australian U23 time trial championships in 2020 before winning the elite title ahead of Luke Durbridge earlier this year.
Plapp’s European campaign for the rest of the season has yet to be announced. It’s likely that he will do a number of one-day races for the next few months with a possibility that he will also be tested in one or two shorter stage races before eventually returning to Australia for a block of racing at the start of January.
“I haven’t done a whole lot of racing over in Europe, so for example I haven’t raced the cobbled races, but based off what I know about myself as a rider so far, the medium punchy climbs, up to about 20 minutes long, and the TTs are what suit me, I think I’ll be an all-rounder,” he said.
“But that’s what the first few years are all about, getting to know what you’re going to be good at, and what suits me and the kind of role I can play in the team.”
Plapp tasted success on the road this year when he won a stage at the Santos Festival of Cycling – the replacement event to the Tour Down Under. He finished second to teammate Richie Porte on the Willunga Hill stage and ended the four-day race second overall behind Durbridge.
“We’re delighted to have Luke join us for 2022,” said Ineos’ director of racing, Rod Ellingworth.
“It’s been a tough period over the last 18 months for promising young riders to really be able to demonstrate their potential, due to the lack of racing available across the U23 category, especially riders from the Oceania region. But, we’ve been impressed with what we have seen so far. Here at the team, we have a history of developing track riders into world-class road racers, like what we have done with Bradley and Geraint. We look forward to Luke coming on board after the Olympics to start his time with the team in preparation for the 2022 season.”
Plapp’s arrival is the start of an overhaul at Ineos Grenadiers with several key domestiques and Grand Tour leader Geraint Thomas all out of contract at the end of the year.
Leonardo Basso, Owain Doull, Sebastian Henao, Jhonathan Narvaez, Brandon Rivera, Ivan Sosa are all out of contract, with a number of them moving on, while Michal Golas and Cameron Wurf are likely to retire. Super domestique Jonathan Castroviejo is expected to re-sign but Rohan Dennis heads to Jumbo-Visma for the next two years.
The British team are likely to build around younger riders, especially Tom Pidcock Ethan Hayter, and now Plapp. Their Grand Tour leaders – Richard Carapaz and Egan Bernal – are both locked in for at least one more season.
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