Luke Plapp will not start stage 4 of the Tour Down Under after a crash on stage 3 left the Jayco-AlUla rider with a shredded national champions jersey and ‘lots of skin lost’.
Plapp had got back on his bike and pedalled over the line in Campbelltown after coming down about 10km from the finish, with the 23-year-old at the bottom of a pile of around five riders. He lost 9:53 to stage winner Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe), spelling the end of any overall hopes, but the team left it open whether he would start the next stage, saying that he had many superficial wounds, a swollen elbow and ankle and that they would monitor him overnight, making an assessment before today’s stage.
“After monitoring Plapp overnight, unfortunately, he will not start today’s fourth stage of the Tour Down Under due to discomfort and ongoing pain from a large amount of wounds,” said the team in a statement sent to media at the race.
The withdrawal of the in-form Plapp – fresh from an Australian time trial title victory and third national road race win in a row – means Jayco-AlUla has lost one of its key climbing options ahead of the crucial weekend of dual summit finishes. Fortunately for the team, it is well stocked with options, with last year’s race runner-up Simon Yates likely to lead the charge, and they also have Chris Harper, who was also second to Plapp in both the time trial and road race at the Australian National Championships.
It, however, will be a cruel blow to Plapp, who had clearly joined his new team – switching from Ineos Grenadiers – in top shape and eager to take on the race, in particular, Willunga Hill, which was a climb where his impressive performance on the Iconic Tour Down Under climb and stage 2 win at the Santos Festival of Cycling in 2021 helped draw the spotlight onto the then aspiring WorldTour rider.
The Gorge Rd crash that took Plapp out of the race also involved a number of other riders. Groupama-FDJ’s Rudy Molard was a DNF, suffering a concussion and several wounds but no fractures. Astana Qazaqstan had a trio of riders involved, with Christian Scaroni hurting his left wrist but no sign of a fracture, Samuele Battistella suffered a blow to his back, while Michele Gazzoli has road rash and hurt his knee.
Cameron Scott (Bahrain Victorious) was also involved in the crash and crossed the line more than 11 minutes down. His team also said on Friday that he would not start.
“Although he was able to finish the race, he will not be starting stage 4 as a precautionary measure,” said Bahrain Victorious on social media. “We wish him a speedy recovery and to see him back racing soon.”
Scott will be missed by the team given he is one of the key leadout riders for Phil Bauhaus and Friday’s stage 4 presents the final opportunity for the sprinters at the race. Sam Welsford and his Bora Hansgrohe lead-out team have so far dominated the bunch charge, with the Australian rider having claimed both stage 1 and 3. However, there will be no shortage of rivals lining up to take their last chance on Friday, including Jayco-AlUla, who are looking to turn the tables with Caleb Ewan.
🚨 UPDATE: After monitoring Luke Plapp overnight, unfortunately he will not start today’s fourth stage of the Tour Down Under due to discomfort & ongoing pain from a large amount of wounds. Rest up Luke 🤕 pic.twitter.com/Uc1Iupi5ooJanuary 18, 2024