Australian Road Championships: Plapp wins elite men's time trial unseating Durbridge

Lucas Plapp in the green and gold after winning the elite men's time trial title
(Image credit: AusCycling )

Luke Plapp (InForm TMX Make) stepped up to the elite ranks early and straight into the green and gold jersey of the Australian time trial champion, delivering a clear win over favourite Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) at Australia's 2021 Federation University Road National Championships. 

The 20-year-old rider finished almost a minute ahead of Durbridge in the 37.5 kilometre elite men’s time trial while it was another first timer in the category, Kelland O’Brien (InForm TMX Make), who came third. 

As the race against the clock began to play out Plapp was clearly in flying form, coming through the first lap of the course outside Ballarat almost having caught the rider in front.

“After the first lap I knew the power was around the mark. I got a split that said it was still really close. It was all in for that last lap,” said Plapp.

Last year’s under 23 time trial winner then came through that last lap with an extra burst of energy as the excited feedback he was getting meant he knew there was a good chance he was ahead, but after crossing with a time of 45:40.73 it was still a tense wait to see if that was going to be enough to stop Durbridge taking the win for a third year in a row. 

“It was a pretty nervous couple of minutes. I didn’t have a time but I was sort of counting it in my head and was like I think that is two minutes gone,” said Plapp, who was surrounded by his team and best friend as he waited. 

“It was pretty unreal and surreal and I was pretty speechless actually.” 

It was a big task to unseat Durbridge, who won his first Australian time trial title when he was the same age as Plapp. Not only has he taken the win the past two years against former two-time world time trial champion Rohan Dennis but was also entering this year’s race fresh from a GC win. Durbridge set himself up for victory, ahead of Plapp, at the Santos Festival of Cycling with his powerful ride in an 80 kilometre solo break on the very first stage.

“Obviously I’m disappointed. You come to the nationals and, especially after the last couple of years I would have liked to have won but it was a really really impressive ride by Luke Plapp. I’m sure we will see much more of him in the future,” said Durbridge.

The defending champion had an unexpectedly difficult run in to the race, as Durbridge went to Western Australia after the Santos Festival of Cycling and then a COVID-19 case lead to the implementation of border restrictions for those trying to come to Victoria from areas in and around Perth. That made even making it to the start line “touch and go”.

“It was stressful. It was not what you expect, but in these times of COVID it’s what you’ve got to do and we acted pretty quickly and applied for an exemption. I was lucky enough that they granted me one with the appropriate processes, with lots of COVID tests” said Durbridge. “So yes it has been a stressful 48, 24 hours. “

“The team just really went in to bat to get me here so I wanted to repay them with a good performance and obviously second is all I had today but hopefully I get a bit more rest before Sunday and will be a bit better.”

The time trial was the opening event in the Australian Road Championships, which was delayed about a month this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The criterium and elite road races are set to play out on Friday and Sunday.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucas Plapp (Aus) Inform TMX Make 0:46:01
2Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team Bike Exchange 0:00:43
3Kelland O'brien (Aus) Inform TMX Make 0:01:11
4Chris Harper (Aus) Team Jumbo Visma 0:01:28
5Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team Bike Exchange 0:03:01
6Alastair Christie-Johnston (Aus) Team Bridgelane 0:03:27
7Kane Richards (Aus) Meiyo Ccn Pro Cycling 0:03:44
8Jordan Villani (Aus) Giant Racing Team 0:03:47
9Angus Lyons (Aus) Ara - Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 0:04:03
10Matt Burton 0:04:08
11Nicholas Squillari 0:04:17
12Harley Moore (Aus) Futuro Pro Cycling 0:04:31
13Jordan Louis (Aus) Veris Racing 0:04:37
14Tim Cutler 0:04:48
15James Ogilvie 0:05:00
16Oliver Stenning (Aus) Ara - Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 0:05:04
17Matthew Sparnon 0:05:41
18Dean Madden 0:05:49
19Sam Gifford 0:06:08
20Peter Milostic 0:06:16
21Jack Aitken 0:06:16
22Cameron Fraser 0:06:48
23Lucas Hoffman 0:06:48
24Giovanni Ross 0:06:56
25Matthew Sherwin 0:07:32
26Sam Greenwood 0:07:44
27Robert Storey 0:07:53
28Peter Wakefield 0:08:13
29Patrick Saccani-Williams (Aus) Velofit Australia 0:08:54
30Willem Van Wyk 0:09:15
31Paul Speed 0:09:54

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Production editor

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.

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