Aussie champ Plapp fights to finish second in UAE Tour
Australian champion Luke Plapp has taken another major step on his road to the top, ending as runner-up at the UAE Tour for his first overall WorldTour podium finish.
The ever-improving 22-year-old prospect Plapp had to dig deep on the final mountain-top finish of the seven-day race at Jebel Hafeet on Sunday to cling on to his second spot by just one second over last-stage winner Adam Yates.
Briton Yates powered away from world champion Remco Evenepoel on the last climb but the Belgian, keeping him in his sights up the slopes and closing near the end, limited his losses to just 10 seconds to secure the overall victory.
Ineos Grenadiers rider Plapp, already having been crowned as a back-to-back national road race champion earlier this year, completed another fine week's work, coming home sixth in the demanding final 10km uphill slog, 54 seconds adrift.
It left him 59 seconds behind Evenepoel in the final general classification, one second ahead of Yates and four seconds clear of Spaniard Pello Bilbao (Team Bahrain Victorious).
Yates, of UAE Team Emirates, attacked successfully with six kilometres left, moving clear of Evenepoel with three kilometres to go while Plapp couldn't respond and had to find his own rhythm among the pursuers.
The Australian had to work hard to stay on the wheel of his closest podium challenger Bilbao and did enough to make sure they crossed the line together.
It ended another fine week for Melbourne's Plapp, who had even led the race for a day before Soudal-QuickStep's Evenepoel took control.
After his battle to keep Yates in sight, Vuelta a Espana champion Evenepoel told reporters: "In the end, I had to go over the limit to keep up with him.
"I came closer towards the end but then my legs ran out of energy because we went super fast on the climb.
"I knew he was going to try something, but I was happy because I could always see him in front of me, so I knew the overall victory was quite safe."