Sarah Gigante and Luke Plapp took the women’s and men’s Australian National time Trial titles with Plapp beating defending champion, Luke Durbridge and Gigante beating Grace Brown in the women’s event.
Gigante (Tibco-SVB) took the elite and under-23 title for a second year in a row as her great start to the season continues, beating Brown (Team BikeExchange) by just 17 seconds after the 28.6km route around Ballarat with a 3-58 gap to third place Nicole Frain (Sydney Uni-Staminade).
In an interview after the race, Gigante said: “I did all the hard work through lockdown and coming up to this event I was really targeting it – I woke up this morning and said the hard works done, time to party.”
The work showed as not only did she take the win but the time was much faster than it was the year before. “Lucky I levelled up because Grace also levelled up,”
The defending champion was last off the ramp so had the luxury of knowing the times of everyone before her, which helped her to the victory: “I felt really good the first lap. I was really strong. The second lap I was still really strong but I did notice the gap to Grace was going out a little bit after the hill. On the hill I reckoned I was beating her by a bit,”
“After that on Yankee Flat Road the gap started to go out a little bit so that was worrying me so I just thought six minutes of pain left, I did so many hard ergos, what’s another six minutes?”
In the men’s race, Plapp was on cloud nine after winning the Australian elite National Time Trial Championships by almost a minute over defending champion, Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange), in his first season on the elite ranks scene.
Plapp (InForm-TMX Make) put almost a whole minute into Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) over the fairly long 37.5km course just outside of Ballarat with Plapp’s team-mate, Kelland O’Brien, also a debutant at elite level, in third on Wednesday (February 3).
The 20-year-old said: “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,”
The youngster had won the under-23 title in 2020 and was confident he was putting in a good ride but was apprehensive once he crossed the line to wait for Durbridge, who had won the last three events.
“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. It was pretty unreal and surreal and I was pretty speechless actually.”
Durbridge had, once again, gone into the race as a solid favourite, especially with Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) not on the start list.
Also, Durbridge had just come off the back of winning the Santos Festival of Cycling where he took victory on stage one by a handsome margin and held on with his fastest ever ascent of Willunga Hill.
Durbridge, though, had a very difficult route to the championships as Covid-19 cases in Victoria meant that travel between Victoria and Western Australia was made more difficult due to border restrictions, but the former champion was magnanimous in defeat.
“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,”
It is only a matter of time before Plapp joins other Australians in the bigger leagues of cycling as he is clearly a potential star in the making.