Lucas Plapp (Garmin-Australia) scorched away from the field on the final climb of the 116 kilometre route of Stage 2 of the Santos Festival of Cycling.
The Australian Cycling Team member initially looked like he was setting tempo to keep teammate Kell O’Brien in a position where he’d be able to contest the sprint, but he then put in a big attack over the crest of the climb, surging clear on the Fox Creek ascent.
He had a gap of ten seconds or so over the top and then engaged his Under 23 time trial and team pursuiting ability to solo the remaining eight kilometres to the finish in Lobethal.
“It was awesome I’ve been aiming for that. I didn’t have to do a turn all day, just follow the wheel,” said Plapp. “It was great to have Richie Porte and Jimmy Whelan in the team, they’re the WorldTour guys, we’re just the track team and they’re going back to get bottles for us!”
A lot of early aggression was shut down by the peloton, before the elastic eventually snapped with Josh Wilson (Velofit Australia) initially slipping away, joined soon by Chris Harper (Cervelo-Tonsley Village, normally Jumbo-Visma), with Brendan Johnston (CCS Canberra) and Cyrus Monk (CycleHouse) joining the front pair after a tough time bridging over.
Harper tried his own solo move off the front of the break, before being brought back by the trio of former breakaway companions and then eventually the peloton as they hurtled towards the key climb of Fox Creek.
Richie Porte had been active in the chase to bring the escapees back into the fold for the Garmin Australia before the track team took over, with Welsford doing a hard turn before Plapp took over.
The Victorian seemed to be content to do just a solid tempo and keep teammate Kelland O’Brien in contention for the sprint later, but then followed a surge by Sam Jenner before attacking himself in the final few hundred metres of the climb.
Plapp extended his lead as the riders organised themselves behind, with a few single riders attempting to set off in pursuit of Plapp. Tim Roe timed his attack the best, jumping clear and passing previous attacker Dylan McKenna (Nero Continental).
However, there was no sighting Plapp again, so much so that Roe didn’t know that the 20-year-old was off the front and saluted as he crossed the finish for second, with Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange) bringing the chasing group home for third.
We’ve had an in-depth chat on the site with Plapp in the past, check it out here.
By Jamie Finch-Penninger
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