Nicole Frain, Luke Plapp win Australian national road titles
Frain holds off the bunch after late acceleration, while 'next big thing' Plapp makes long-range solo move into Buninyong.
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Nicole Frain (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) and Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) booked themselves into the green and gold jerseys of Aussie road champions for 2022 on Sunday.
Frain won the women’s race with a last-gasp solo move, attacking from three kilometers out and holding off the chasing pack in the Buninyong circuit race. Later in the day Sunday, Plapp confirmed himself as “the next big thing” in Australian cycling with his impressive solo victory.
Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) won the sprint for second in the women’s race, her fourth national road race podium without a win. Rising talent Alyssa Polites (Sydney Uni Staminade) took third and claimed the U23 title.
Pre-race favorite Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco) finished fourth.
With a bold late move, @frain_nicole has taken the biggest win of her career, going solo to claim the elite road race title in Buninyong. #RoadNats22https://t.co/KPLRhp4LlN
— AusCycling (@AusCyclingAus) January 16, 2022
Frain, 29, only took up racing four years ago. Since then she has claimed the Australian National Road Series and last year spent time with U.S. outfit Tibco-SVB.
After placing seventh in the national time trial earlier this week, the dark-horse contender gambled and it paid off.
“I thought if I just get a little bit of a gap I’m just all in. It’s now or never because having Ruby [Roseman-Gannon] and that still there, I didn’t want them there, not for me, and then the gap opened,” Frain said after the race. “And then I was just like, ‘Don’t time trial like you did on Wednesday and you’ll be fine.’”
Defending champion Sarah Roy (Canyon-SRAM) stayed in Europe and so wasn’t able to defend her title, while former winner Sarah Gigante (Movistar) is still recovering from a recent illness.
You can check out the full women’s race report and results over at CyclingTips.
While Frain left it late to make her move, Plapp went from further out. The 21-year-old attacked out of the chase pack at 30km to go, reeled in lone breakaway rider James Whelan (Bridgelane) in the final 10km, and then blasted clear to win by 45 seconds.
Whelan held on for silver while Brendan Johnston took bronze. Two-time defending champ Cameron Meyer (BikeExchange-Jayco) did not finish.
Plapp, riding without any Ineos Grenadiers teammates, said he played all his cards on one well-timed attack.
“I spoke to my coach last night and he said as soon as you feel the moment, just back it, don’t hesitate,” he said. “And once you have that one move, commit all in for it and don’t make another. So I was just glad that that one move that I chose paid off.”
Plapp catches, then overtakes Whelan!!!
Inside 9km to go and Plapp looks the goods for the green and gold!
Watch the men’s race on @SBSOnDemand here: https://t.co/faKUk1AMYo#sbscycling #couchpeloton #RoadNats22 pic.twitter.com/tyxTIz70dW
— CyclingCentral (@CyclingCentral) January 16, 2022
The victory adds to an already promising palmarès for Plapp. He won the national time trial title last year at the age of 20 and backed it up seven months later with second-place in the U23 TT worlds in Leuven.
Plapp will kick-start his WorldTour career proper this season as he enters his three-year contract with Ineos Grenadiers. He raced as stagiaire with the squad through the back-half of 2021.
Check out the full men’s race report over at CyclingTips.