2021 TIME TRIAL RECAP
Once rising stars, now leading stars. Sarah Gigante and Luke Plapp, products of the Brunswick Cycling Club junior development program, claimed the elite individual time trials at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat.
Dreams became a reality for 20-year-old Luke Plapp (InForm TMX Make) when he clinched his maiden elite time trial crown at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat on Wednesday.
"I dreamed of it, but I saw this coming," said Plapp, the reigning champion in the under 23 category who elected to race in the elite ranks as he continues his rapid rise in the sport.
"It's been a massive goal of mine, and I'm just proud to cross the line in first because this is pretty special."
It was a triple treat for Plapp who not only claimed the green and gold champion's jersey and gold medal, but the course record after blistering the 37.5–kilometre course in a time of 46minutes 0.73 seconds.
Plapp finished 42 seconds ahead of defending champion Luke Durbridge, with Kelland O'Brien completing the podium.
"After the first lap, I was told that I was up on most of my competitors and really close with Durbridge, which was within five seconds," said Plapp. "So, it did all come down to the last split and for the last lap, I was just told it was really close and to keep going."
"It was a pretty nervous few minutes when I came in because I didn't have a time yet."
Plapp, who started his cycling journey with Melbourne's Brunswick Cycling Club junior development program as a nine-year-old, was selected to the Australian Olympic Track Team for the Tokyo Olympic Games at 19.
Last month he shone at the Santos Festival of Cycling with a superb stage victory while also riding in support of Tour de France star Richie Porte.
Plapp moved to Adelaide in 2018 to join the Australian Cycling Team track endurance program and was ecstatic to share today's moment in person with teammates, coaches and friends.
"I had all of my team around me including my best mate Blake, and it was really good to give him a hug right at the end," he said. "I would like to thank my family for coming down, they have always been supportive of me, particularly when I was in Adelaide as well."
"Timmy (Decker), my coach, has done everything for me, he lives and breathes it with us, to Ken and Nick who helped build my bike, the team from AusCycling, and my teammates."
Border closures almost kept Luke Durbridge (Team Bike Exchange) from a title defence, with the Perth cyclist revealing his hectic last-minute dash to the start ramp from Western Australia to Victoria.
"It was stressful, it's definitely not what you expect," said Durbridge. "In these times with COVID it's what you've got to do. We acted quite quickly and applied for an exemption and I was lucky enough that they supplied me with one."
Durbridge revealed he was receiving COVID tests through to the moment he boarded the last flight out of Western Australia bound for Victoria.
"There were COVID tests last night at 10 o'clock, I arrived at Ballarat by about midnight and then got the all clear at about nine this morning," said Durbridge.
"So I'd like to say a big thank you to the support team. Gerry Ryan and the team went in to bat for me to get me here."
The reigning champion Durbridge praised Lucas Plapp (InForm TMX Make), who finished 42 seconds ahead.
"It was a really impressive ride by Lucas Plapp and I'm sure we'll be seeing much more of him in the future," said Durbridge.
Sarah Gigante defended her elite and under 23-time trial crowns in resounding style by scorching her personal best time on the Federation University campus in Mount Helen, Ballarat.
20-year-old Gigante posted a time of 40mins 41.12secs, seventeen seconds ahead of the 2019 champion Grace Brown (Team Bike Exchange). The pair dominated the field, with Nicole Frain (Sydney Uni - Staminade) rounding out the podium a further four minutes behind.
Gigante signed with WorldTour outfit Team Tibco–Silicon Valley Bank for the 2020 season which cut short due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The strong start to 2021 started her domination of the Santos Festival of Cycling in Adelaide.
However, Gigante revealed multiple reconnaissance trips aided in her success on the Ballarat Road Nationals course.
"I love coming to Ballarat and Buninyong; it's like my second home. I've been up here quite a lot over the last couple of months doing some national simulations on the courses," said Gigante.
"I did about three (race) simulations, and I was pretty happy when I completed the course a couple of weeks ago when I beat my race time from last year".
As for her effort, Gigante was even faster on what is quickly becoming her favourite course.
"I think I heard someone say my time was two minutes quicker than last year, which I'm pretty stoked about, but it's lucky I levelled up because Grace (Brown) also levelled up," said Gigante.
Beginning her cycling journey with the Brunswick Cycling Club as a youngster, Gigante launched herself onto the radar at 2018 Championships by winning all three national titles on offer in the under 19 classifications. Twelve months later she stunned the cycling world by winning the elite road crown as an 18-year-old, before winning her first time trial title last year.
Understandably, Gigante is enjoying her cycling more than ever.
"I think it's just super important to love what you do," said Gigante.
"Obviously, I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't love what I do. It's true you have to push through some difficult times and some pain, but if you love your bike and riding with your mates, that's the key".
UNDER 23 MEN'S
Carter Turnbull (InForm TMX Make) has dominated the under 23 men's individual time trial event at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat.
Turnbull completed the 28.6km course in a time of 36 minutes 50.52 secs to claim the gold medal, 45 seconds ahead of teammate Conor Leahy (InForm TMX Make) and Patrick Eddy (Team BridgeLane).
The result was the biggest for the 21-year-old who represented Australia at the 2018 Junior World Championships.
"I am pretty happy with that," said Turnbull, who took bronze in the event in 2020 and who finished fourth on the Young Rider classification at last month's Santos Festival of Cycling.
"I really enjoyed this event last year, so I was looking forward to coming back to compete again this week. It was good fun out there."
UNDER 19 MEN'S RECAP
Queensland's Lachlan Miller clinched his maiden national title by claiming the under 19 men's time trial at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat.
Miller covered the 18.8-kilometre course in a time of 24mins 52.04 secs to claim the gold, nearly thirty seconds ahead of Dylan George (Manly Warringah Cycling Club), with Matthew Connan (Peel District CC) taking bronze.
The University of Queensland rider was pleased with his race tactics throughout the challenging sections of the course.
"It went pretty well, I was happy with how everything went today," Miller said. "I liked the course as it had a bit of everything in it, the big hill at the start was pretty hard, and there were a few long straights that were a bit tiring."
Miller began competitive racing a little more than a year ago after being bitten by the cycling bug following a ride with his father. Today the rising star credited his success to his parents, with their support being a pivotal factor in his career to date.
"I would like to thank my Mum and Dad for the support they provide throughout my cycling career, as I wouldn't be here without them," Miller mentioned.
"Their backing as my parents provided me with the determination I needed to succeed today."
UNDER 19 WOMEN'S RECAP
Victoria's Alyssa Polites defended her under 19 women's time trial crown following a dominant display at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat.
Polites clocked a time of 28mins 6.82secs across the 18.8-kilometre course, one minute ahead of Dubbo Cycling Club's Haylee Fuller (NSW) and Queensland's Isabelle Carnes (Balmoral Cycling Club).
The win continues the Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club rider's rise in the sport over the last few years, including national titles on the track and a National Road Series contract with Sydney Uni Staminade.
Polites revealed the successful title defence was a great reward for completing her final year of high school in 2020.
"It was a pretty big goal for me this year. Coming after year-12 studies, I really put my head down targeting both track and road nationals," said Polites, who will enter a double degree of Exercise Science and Business at Deakin University in 2021.
More than 1400 cyclists from across Australia will descend on Ballarat this week for the AusCycling 2021 Federation University Road National Championships.
The five days of action in Ballarat and Buninyong from February 3-7 will feature the time trial, criterium, road race, plus Gran Fondo events.
In all, 151 AusCycling national champions will be crowned across the elite, under 23, under 19, para, deaf, club and intellectual impairment categories. 40 UCI gold medals will be awarded in the UCI Gran Fondo World Qualifier events in the road race and time trial.
The coveted green and gold national champion's jerseys on offer in the criterium, road race and time trial, plus Gran Fondo, across five days of action. >>> roadnationals.org.au/schedule
START LISTS & LIVE RESULTS
Visit the website's official live timing page to stay up–to–date with all the action live from the Championships. >>> roadnationals.org.au/startlist-results
The AusCycling 2021 Federation University Road National Championships will feature domestic coverage on SBS and FoxSports Australia, and for the first time, international broadcast coverage through the Global Cycling Network. >>> roadnationals.org.au/tv-live-stream-guide
To ensure everyone's safety in attendance, we've taken steps to safeguard The Federation University Road National Championships is a COVID Safe event. >>> roadnationals.org.au/spectate/