Jayco AlUla set out to win 'every single stage and the GC' at the Tour Down Under

With Simon Yates, Caleb Ewan and Luke Plapp all on one team, the team's big goal for their home race might be in reach

Luke Plapp
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's a fair deal of pressure on Jayco AlUla at the Tour Down Under. It's the home stage race for the only Australian WorldTour team, they have brought a strong squad which includes a Grand Tour winner and the Australian champion, and they haven't won the race since 2019. So, naturally, they are aiming to win every stage and the overall.

Simon Yates, Caleb Ewan and Luke Plapp, with Chris Harper too, are the key members of the seven-man team seeking to conquer the Tour Down Under. Yates finished second overall last year, winning a stage en route; Ewan is a nine-time stage winner, although his last win came in 2020; meanwhile Plapp is the newly crowned Australian champion, winning it for a third time in a row just over a week before the TDU begins.

The team are in good form, with Plapp's victory in the Australian nationals road race coming ahead of two other teammates in Harper and Kelland O'Brien; Plapp's victory in the time trial also came ahead of two Jayco teammates, while Ewan won the criterium to boot.

However, Plapp was keen to play down his role before the race, talking up Ewan and Yates instead.

"Yates is the team leader and he's here for a reason," he said in the pre-race press conference. "And we've also got Caleb who is in some really red hot form. I think we saw that at Nationals as well. He's really motivated and wants to start his season off really strong. 

"To be honest, we're looking to win every single stage and the GC. I think that's a good team target, and I really feel confident that we've got a great group of riders here."

The first four stages of the race are likely to be days for sprinters, unless the breakaway spoils the day, with multiple teams interested in bunch finishes. However, they are not easy days, with stage two to Lobethal in particular looking tough.

It is the weekend where the race will be decided, though, with stage five concluding with two ascents of Willunga Hill, and stage six seeing the riders take on Mount Lofty three times.

"Yatesy is here for a reason," Plapp said. "He got second here last year and I think this course suits him even better, having Willunga. I'd love to play a part in helping him succeed and win the race. And then see how I can fare in that as well. 

"I'd love to be up there too. But at the end of the day, we are here to win. So as long as one of us is we're in that ochre jersey at the end of the week, that'd be the goal."

Plapp will also have the advantage of being in reasonably top form for the race, while some of his European peers are still working towards their shape; he also is used to the heats, and the roads.

"It does sort of feel like a bit of a home race," he explained. "I don't really need to do recons or check the courses out because I used to train on them so often. So now I'm really looking forward to it. I've got some fond memories of racing here with Richie [Porte] a couple years ago and then also to have been a part of Ineos last year racing."

Jayco are not the only team with riders in contention for victory, however. For the overall, Bahrain-Victorious are here with Jack Haig, and Soudal Quick-Step have Julian Alaphilippe, while for the sprints, there are the likes of Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty).

Alaphilippe, however, was clear that while he was aiming to do well, his form is uncertain.

"I have no idea," the Frenchman explained. "I don't know but for sure I'm motivated to do my best. You never know how you will feel during the first race of the season. It will be the first big effort and also like I said with the heat, you have to be careful.

"I think it's an important year for me to try to come back to my best level and I will give my best. I have no stress. I just want to enjoy."

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