In its first big test of the 2024 season, the team's riders put on a show, controlling the action in both men’s and women’s events. For the men, new rider Luke Plapp led the way, winning the time trial and the road race. On the women’s side, Ruby Roseman-Gannon also pulled off the double, winning both the criterium and road race.
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 Giant Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem. Riding with a 4-Spoke front and Disc rear, the 23-year-old blitzed the 37.5km course to earn his second TT national title following the one he won in 2021.
Plapp’s teammate Chris Harper took the silver medal, 33 seconds back, and Michael Hepburn made it a clean sweep by finishing third for the bronze medal.
“This is special, I feel like I’m back home being in Jayco AlUla,” Plapp said. “I’m back in the green and gold stripes in the TT, I really missed these stripes since 2021.”
The second race for men, the criterium, was a showcase for another new recruit, sprinter Caleb Ewan. A winner of stages at all three grand tours, Ewan was gunning for his fourth criterium national title and the team was all in on supporting him.
The team chased down every breakaway attempt during the 40-lap race and then executed the finish to perfection as they put Ewan in place for the final dash to the line. Riding the CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem, the 29-year-old delivered, going clear in the final meters to take the win.
“I really wanted to start the year well and that was going to be here at the crit,” said Ewan. “The team did an amazing job, and we rode quite aggressive.”
The final event for the men 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 Giant Propel Advanced SL team bikes with CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystems, 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.”
The Elite Women’s racing opened up with a 28.6km time trial, two laps of a 14.5km circuit with 180 meters of elevation gain each lap. Georgie Howe struck first for the team, earning a bronze medal with a third-place finish behind four-time national TT champion Grace Brown and silver medalist Brodie Chapman.
The medals kept coming from there, as the Liv AlUla Jayco women swept the podium placings in the criterium and then took gold and bronze in the road race.
Riding her Liv road bike with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem, Roseman-Gannon completed a fantastic team effort in the criterium, attacking solo to take the win. Behind her, teammates Georgia Baker and Alex Manley finished second and third in the bunch sprint to earn silver and gold.
“I think it’s my first solo win since I became a professional and maybe my first ever so I’m really happy to win today,” Roseman-Gannon said. “In the end, we got one-two-three, so I can’t thank the girls enough. It’s such a great team to race with, and what a way to start the year.”
Two days later, Roseman-Gannon took gold again, powering to the women’s road national championship with an unbeatable sprint at the end of the hilly 104km race in Buninyong. Her teammate Alex Manly finished third to take bronze.
“The past couple years I’ve wanted this so bad and every year I finished just a bit disappointed,” Roseman-Gannon said. “I can’t thank my team enough, this is the best group and I’m just in shock. I think everyone was just on another level, we had the team meeting before and everyone was 100 percent in. It’s an Australian team and it means so much to bring it back to Europe, it feels like a dream.”
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 for both the men and women that takes place next week in Australia.