Aussie Focus

'A Warrny we haven't seen' ever before: Plapp

Ahead of the 2021 Melbourne to Warrnambool, Lucas Plapp (Inform TM Insight MAKE) put the other teams on notice as everyone prepares for a blockbuster edition of the Melbourne to Warrnambool. The race will be live-streamed on SBS Cycling Central's Facebook page from 11.30am on Saturday, May 1.

Luke Plapp, Time Trial, Australian National Road Race Championships

Luke Plapp celebrates after winning the time trial at the Australian national road championships Source: Con Chronis/AusCycling

Plapp was the star of the Australian cycling summer, emerging as the next big thing in the sport with a stage win and a top climbing performance on par with Richie Porte at the Santos Festival of Cycling on Willunga Hill. He then went on to win the Australian national time trial championships ahead of four-time national champion Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange), cementing his reputation as a rising star of the sport. 

Plapp fielded calls from international teams and was featured in global cycling media with the spotlight on the Victorian 20-year-old as he dazzled in late January and early February. That was set to continue at the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool but a COVID-19 outbreak forced the race to be rescheduled to May 1.

With the race set to be raced outside the normal time period and season, it looks like the prevailing wind will be a northerly, with the majority of the opening half of the race to be a cross-tailwind. Plapp was predicting scenes on the road not seen for a long time at the Melbourne to Warrnambool.

“I think it will create quite a different dynamic,” said Plapp, “it will be a Warrny that haven’t seen for quite a while, or ever really, if the crosswinds come as predicted. I’m quite looking forward to that. Hopefully, by the time everyone’s tuned in, the race is split apart and in a lot of groups.” 

With the race starting at 8.00am AEST from Avalon Airport just outside Geelong, riders will be well on their way to Warrnambool when the live-stream kicks off on SBS Cycling Central's Facebook page.

“We will have been racing for a few hours already and I would hope that the racing will have split up already and you may have missed the best part of it,” said Plapp. “If there is a crosswind or tailwind I think there might be some gutter action quite early to make the most of the crosswinds. We back ourselves to be there at the end of a really hard race and that definitely what we’ll be looking for.” 

Plapp wasn't talking up his own form too much ahead of the racing action, but along with last year's third place in Mark O'Brien, fellow track and road star Kell O'Brien, and perennial favourite in these races Raphael Freienstein, his Inform squad will be one of the major players at the Australian classic.

“It’s not too bad," said Plapp of his own form. "I wouldn’t say it’s where it was at during road nationals or the TDU (the normal Tour Down Under was run as the Santos Festival of Cycling in 2021), but the beauty is that with Inform we have such a good team for Inform entering that race.  

"We’ve got Kell (O’Brien), Raph (Raphael Freienstein) – who’s always up there – and, if it’s a bunch sprint which it isn’t usually and I think not with this weather, we have got Blake Quick. We’re covering all bases and I think we have a really good team. I’d like to say one of us will get up for the win and I expect us to as well."


With two-time winner Nathan Elliott in the car behind helping call the shots out on the road, the squad will be as well-set as any to tackle even the hardest of races, though Plapp has a wary eye on his track teammates.

“A different dynamic for the race will be that we have Leigh Howard and Sam Welsford in a different team," said Plapp. "So, we’re normally racing together but myself and Kell will be up against those two.

"We all know how each other wants to race. It will be about working that out. We’ll have to use our Inform numbers against those two, I know that they’re going quite well and they’ll be going into the race thinking that they could win too.” 

Plapp and his fellow Olympic hopefuls are using the race as part of key preparation for their tilt at gold in Tokyo, the team pursuit, in particular, the blue riband event for any Olympics. The training plan would likely have looked a little different had the coronavirus not impacted the world and travel restrictions have meant that it was unlikely that they would have lined up on the startline at Avalon Airport.

“If this was any other cycle (Olympic 4-year cycle) we’d be doing up in altitude doing a road block or something similar, so we’re doing what we can in Australia," said Plapp. "We’ve had such a big block on the road that when we start our track work we don’t have to tap into the track, we can build on what we have and really focus on the track.” 

The 2021 Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool will be live-streamed on SBS Cycling Central from 11.30am AEST on Saturday May 1, with Matthew Keenan and Dave McKenzie in commentary.

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5 min read
Published 28 April 2021 at 4:10pm
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS