Australian Plapp leads UAE Tour after team trial stage

Australian cyclist Luke Plapp leads the UAE Tour after his strong form in the opening two stages.

It is the first time the reigning national road champion has led a WorldTour stage race.

The 22-year-old from Melbourne and his Ineos Grenadiers teammates finished third in the second stage, a 17.3 team time trial at Khalifa Port.

This gave Plapp the overall lead, although he shares the same time on general classification with Belgian world champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick Step).

Evenepoel's squad won the team time trial, one second ahead of EF Education-Easypost, with Ineos three seconds off the pace.

Plapp and Evenepoel were key protagonists during the opening stage, which was punctuated by crosswinds and echelons.

But the Australian said after stage two Evenepoel is the man to beat in the week-long tour.

"It's nice but there's definitely a long way to go in this race," he said.

"I will try to defend it as long as I can but Remco is definitely the favourite. He's the world champion for a reason.

"For me, it'll just be a matter of holding on and seeing what I can do in the climbs from here."

Plapp has enjoyed a strong start to the season, successfully defending his national road title last month in Buninyong, near Ballarat.