New recruit Luke Plapp led the way for the team, winning both the time trial and road race. His teammate Chris Harper took silver in those two events, while Michael Hepburn won bronze in the TT and Kelland O’Brien did the same in the road race. Another new rider to the team, sprinter Caleb Ewan, won the men’s criterium.
Plapp, who joins Team Jayco AlUla this year after two seasons with Ineos Grenadiers, kicked off his nationals campaign by winning the time trial on his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem. The 23-year-old blitzed the 37.5km course to finish 33 seconds ahead of Harper and earn his second TT national title following the one he won in 2021.
“This is special,” said Plapp, who wore the Giant Pursuit TT helmet to take the win. “I feel like I’m back home being in Jayco AlUla. I’m back in the green and gold stripes in the TT, I really missed these stripes since 2021.”
The second race for the Elite Men was the criterium. Racing in support of their new sprinter Caleb Ewan, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours, the team controlled the race, chasing down several breakaways. On the last of 40 laps, O’Brian and Blake Quick led out Ewan and the 29-year-old delivered with a blistering sprint to the line.
“I really wanted to start the year well and that was going to be here at the crit,” Ewan said after earning the criterium national title for the fourth time in his career. “The team did an amazing job and we rode quite aggressive.”
The final event for the team was Sunday’s road race, a 186km race that covered 16 laps of a hilly 11.6km circuit. Plapp and Harper made an early move, going off the front with more than 100km to go. Racing on their Propel Advanced SL team bikes with CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystems and wearing Giant Rev Pro helmets to match their new team kits, the two worked together over the remainder of the race, with Harper helping Plapp earn his third consecutive Australian road national title.
Plapp and Harper finished more than six minutes ahead of the field, and their teammate O’Brien then won the field sprint to take the final podium spot.
“I think from the start we were all on top of it,” Harper said. “Plappy was absolutely flying at the end out there, so I had to tell him to ease up a little bit for me, but it’s a great day and a good hit for us going to the Tour Down Under next week.”
Plapp thanked Harper for his work and credited the team for the strong effort. “That was amazing, I think from the gun we had everything under control,” he said. “Me and Harper had a great time out there, I can’t thank him enough.”
With the new season off to a successful start, the team now turns its attention toward the Tour Down Under, the opening race of the 2024 UCI WorldTour that takes place January 16-21 in Australia.