Luke Plapp
Australian Luke Plapp looking good in yellow as the peloton rode the fifth stage of the Paris-Nice. Image by EPA PHOTO
  • staging race - cycling

Plapp holds on to yellow jersey in the Paris-Nice race

Glenn Moore March 8, 2024

Luke Plapp has kept hold of the yellow jersey in the Paris-Nice ‘Race to the Sun’ after a careful day riding with the peloton through southern France.

The three-time Australian road race champion remains 13 seconds clear after all the leading riders finished at the same time, a small breakaway having been reeled in ahead of a sprint finish won by Dutch rider Olav Kooij (Visma).

Plapp kept out of trouble on Thursday’s fifth stage, a 193.5km run from Saint-Sauveur-De-Montagut to Sisteron in Provence, savouring his spell in yellow, the first Australian to wear it in this week-long cycling classic since Richie Porte nine years ago.

Immediately behind the Melburnian is Colombia’s Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) with the UAE Emirates pair of Brandon McNulty (27 secs) and Joao Almeida (29), and Soudal Quickstep star Remco Evenepoel (30), close behind.

Plapp, 23, said at the stage start: “It’s a special feeling to be in the yellow jersey. It’s my first time. Now I just want to enjoy the yellow jersey. It’s already more than I expected coming here. I’ll just ride my own race and hold on as much as I can.”.

“It was nice, the sun was out and the French roads were beautiful today,” he said at the finish. “I really enjoyed being in yellow. It was super fast and a frantic finish trying to catch the break.”

At one point late on Plapp was at the back of the peloton but he added: “I was at the front for most of the day and then at the back when the sprinters came out to play, I knew with the 3km rule I’d be safe if there was an incident.

“With the headwind I probably went in there thinking it would be a bit easier, but it was a really strong breakaway. It was really hard chasing back to the finish line.”

The race’s Australian contingent is down one more after Kaden Groves followed Plapp’s Jayco AlUla teammate Michael Matthews in withdrawing. The team had earmarked Friday’s stage six as one Matthews might win, said Plapp, but without his compatriot he said, “I think the focus will be on defending the jersey now.”