Luke Plapp: Last year I wasn’t given the chance to be a leader enough

‘Refreshed’ Australian looking towards Paris-Nice, Giro d’Italia and discovering his strengths in 2024 after Ineos Grenadiers departure

Clock13:18, Friday 9th February 2024

© Sirotti Stefano

Luke Plapp raced for Ineos Grenadiers for two and a half years before moving to Jayco AlUla for 2024

Despite crashing out, Luke Plapp was one of the biggest stars at this year’s Tour Down Under, with more than just his Australian national champion’s jersey attracting attention as he made his chapter-opening debut for Jayco AlUla.

However, the 23-year-old admitted he still doesn’t know what kind of rider he is, and discovering that will be a big goal in 2024.

Plapp is currently building up to the UAE Tour, a race that’s brought success for him in the past, before kicking off his European season.

After breaking his contract with Ineos Grenadiers early to head to home team Jayco AlUla over the off-season, Plapp took on the Australian block largely as a support rider for Simon Yates and Caleb Ewan, but was already thinking about what the new year on a new team will bring him.

“I still don’t know where that sits yet,” Plapp told GCN when asked what kind of road rider he sees himself as.

“I think I just need some more races to have that opportunity, and also I think I need to have a chance of being a leader, to find out whether that’s where I can fit as well.”

The talented junior and track rider signed for Ineos at the end of 2021, but struggled to find his own opportunities within the British team, picking up only a couple of GC podiums and national titles during his time there.

“Last year I wasn’t given the chance to be a leader enough, and I need to know if that’s something I want to be doing or if that’s something I can suit,” he said. “So I think that’s the opportunities I’ll have this year.”

This is clearly something Jayco AlUla want to support, too, with the Australian team giving their new signing an ambitious programme for 2024. The UAE Tour is up next, where Plapp finished second in 2023. He counts the Middle East amongst his favourite places to race. Then, a European debut in France beckons.

“I should do Paris-Nice first up in Europe, and then do Milan-San Remo as well, both of those races will be in support, and then towards the Giro,” he explained. “I’m not sure what the final race before the Giro will look like, but definitely Paris-Nice and San Remo and then we’ll work out what the best build towards the Giro is.”

Looking ahead to the Giro, Plapp admitted it was “too early to tell” what his role there might be, but performing well will be a big goal for him and the team. It will be only his second Grand Tour, his first being the Vuelta a España in 2022, so it remains to be seen what kind of rider the 23-year-old will be across three-week racing. Plapp is not rushing into it.

“I’ll also reset between now and then, there’s a bit of a break between Aussie summer and Paris-Nice, and then it’s still a long way to the Giro. I think everyone thinks it’s the first tour and it comes up quite quick, but for me I have gone quite hard for [the Tour Down Under], I do need a reset, rebuild again. I think we’ll just take our time, once we get back to Europe and settle in again. I love being in Australia so much, so it does take me a while to just settle back into Europe, but I can’t wait.”

Though Plapp still has a lot to discover as he continues his nascent career, one thing is clear: he’s very happy at his new team, and in a good position to kick off the second phase of his development

“Physically I think I’m in very similar shape to what I always have been, but mentally I’m just so refreshed,” he said. “I’m so happy. I’m just really, really in a good mental state, I had an amazing off-season and pre-season, so I’m just really happy to be part of this team if I’m honest. I wake up each morning and head to each race with a smile and a lot of confidence.”

For more rider interviews, visit our interviews page.

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