Jayco Alula rider and three-time Australian National Champion Luke Plapp.

Bang BANG: Lee ‘Hollywood Turner Speaks With Luke Plapp

Three-time National Champion Luke Plapp is one of the world’s most talented and exciting bike riders. The reining national champion, Plappy is just the second rider in history – after the legendary John Trevorrow – to win three consecutive Australian road titles. Here Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner speaks with the 23yo powerhouse.

Lee Turner: I’m with Luke Plapp, the three-time Australian champion … Luke out of your three wins which one do you rank the highest?

Luke Plapp: Woah … that’s a tough one. I think they’re all very, very different races. In each one I had to work out my competitors and think about how to beat them on an individual level. I think probably the second one was where I raced the best and kept my cool. They’re all as special as each other and I know how highly prized the national road jersey is.

LT: Now the Nationals are moving to Perth, what are your thoughts on that?

LP: I think it will bring up some difficulties with travel, that said I hope big numbers of people can still get there and support it. The first year might be a bit of a struggle but I hope the second and third years it will really get going and be a great race. You only have to look at how big the Boxing Day Papas is in Perth to see how much support is behind the local scene there. Plus of course Ben O’Connor, Sam Welsford and Jai Hindley – some of the world’s best cyclists, are from WA.

Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner with Luke Plapp in Adelaide for the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under.

LT: How do you manage the emotions of one week winning the Nationals and then being in a bad crash and out of the TDU?

LP: It really hurt, mate. I probably had my eye on the TDU more than anything. I specifically trained for Willunga and after crashing out was quite emotional watching that Willunga stage, and seeing the group that came to the front. I was looking forward to that GC battle and I think the team, with me, Yatesie and Harper would’ve changed that race. I’ve had a few quiet days eating chocolate (laughs) but I’ll pick myself back up then get over to Europe and start the season with Paris-Nice.

LT: What are your objectives for 2024?

LP: I’m focused on the Giro – all the stage races in the first part of the year plus our altitude camp are our lead-up to the first Grand Tour. After the Giro there’s 10 weeks ‘til the Olympics – that’s my focus. The two selection races for the Olympics are at the Giro so that helps. I’m there and will give those TT races my all, after that, it’s all in for the Olympics.

Plappy at the Jayco Alula team presentation at the 2024 Tour Down Under.

LT: If you could win either an Olympic Gold, Tour de France or the road World Championships, which would you pick?

LP: Olympics gold … I don’t even have to think about it. To me, the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport and it’s why I wanted to become a cyclist in the first place.

LT: What made you go from Ineos to GreenEDGE?

LP: I think I needed a fresh start, mentally and physically, with my race programme and my condition. Plus I love and miss Australia. I think the team morale and Aussie banter on the team bus helps a lot – I think it brings the most out of me and helps with results. And when I’m happy I’m definitely the best version of myself. Even so early in the season, I can see that it’s been the right choice.

LT: Plus there’s certainly some talent – Chris Harper for example who is powering.

LP: Yes, Harps is flying! He has really stepped. He is fast uphill and also on the flats as well … he’s the complete package. He really is becoming a super domestique.

Plappy ultimately crashed out of the 2024 TDU. He has gone on to have a strong season with highlights (so far) including the race lead and yellow jersey after Stage 4 of Paris-Nice.

LT: And it must be great to have your mate Kel O’Brien on the team as well.

LP: Yeah I was just talking to him 15 minutes ago, and I said “Mate it’s so good to be racing on the same team”. It’s the same with Blake Quick, it’s really special that I’ve got those guys on the team with me. They know how I move around a bunch and where I like to be, and I know the same about them. It really is special to have that connection with teammates when you’re racing. And when you’re there with your best mates you really can find that extra little bit.

LT: Are there other WorldTour Aussies you’d like to help get to the team?

LP: (Laughs) I’d love to! I’d love to help try to get Jai Hindley one day, or Ben O’Connor. We’ve got such a well-rounded team of Aussies now that can do it all.

LT: There’s all this gravel nonsense going on now, are you a gravel guy?

LP: Mate I f%^&ing hate it.

LT: I’m so glad to hear that, I hate it too. That’s fantastic, let’s move on from gravel. What about the ergo?

LP: I hate that as well.

LT: Geez we are really lime brothers, this is fantastic.

LP: I can’t stand riding inside – get me out on the road anytime.

Luke Plapp made it a historic three wins in a row at the 2024 National Champipnships in Buningyong. Images: Con Chronis / GreenEDGE Cycling

LT: What’s it been like going from a Pinarello to a Giant? Is there much of a difference?

LP: The Pina is a great all-round bike and really rides well. But the Propel is lighter and faster in a straight line. It’s an out-and-out sprint bike and a dream to ride. I haven’t ridden the TCR yet because I can get my Propel close to race weight – it’s so fast. Plus the Australian colours on my race bike look incredible.

LT: Wrapping up, anything you’d like to add.

LP: In this Olympic year I would love to be on the travel and I’ll miss it. But my other aim is being a GC rider in the future and hopefully be on the podium at a Grand Tour. So that’s why I’m currently away from the track. But I have faith in the boys and look forward to seeing them on the top step again.

LT: Ok Luke, five quick-fire questions – white socks or black?

LP: White.

LT: Long or short socks?

LP: I’ve been known to wear long socks but occasionally I’ll go the Bradley Wiggins and wear no socks at all.

LT: Sleeves – long or short?

LP: All the way down to the elbow.

Lee: Oh yes, I love this … white shoes or black?

LP: Black shoes shouldn’t even be made.

LT: Luke Plapp, thanks so much for your time.

LP: Cheers Hollywood, it’s an absolute pleasure. unknown.gif


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