Unexpected pit stop thwarts Luke Plapp’s Giro d’Italia stage win ambitions in Sappada

Luke Plapp dashed to a portable toilet immediately after crossing the finish line in Sappada. He emerged with a smile a few minutes later, having finally resolved a digestive issue that dashed his hopes of winning stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia. The Australian national champion was part of the breakaway group that vied for the victory. However, Plapp was held back by needing to stop multiple times for what he described as ‘poop stops’. He eventually finished fifth, 2 minutes and 27 seconds behind stage winner Andrea Vedrame, who soloed to victory in the rain.

Plapp’s Uncomfortable Ride

“The legs are really, really good. I was just having a lot of stomach problems, which put me in a really uncomfortable position. I had to keep stopping and chasing back,” Plapp explained. Emerging from the portable toilet with a smile of relief, he added, “It was a very, very uncomfortable four hours, but I was happy with the race.”

Plapp’s problems were reminiscent of Tom Dumoulin’s famous ‘poop stop’ during the 2017 Giro d’Italia. Dumoulin, who was wearing the maglia rosa at the time, was caught on camera but didn’t lose any time. In contrast, Plapp’s stops were more discreet but cost him a chance at the stage victory.

“The first time I had to stop, it cost me a lot to get back. When I got back, there was a steep four-kilometre climb halfway through the race,” he explained. “It took a lot of energy to get back to the front. It’s a shame because I would have been up there easily if I’d started with them.”

Riders take on huge quantities of carbohydrates during Grand Tours, especially when they go on the attack during mountain stages. Plapp, however, was hit by the fatigue of the Giro d’Italia rather than an overdose of carbs, sugars, or fibre.

“Today was no different to any other day in my career. I’ve had stomach problems twice in my career,” he said. “I’m pretty good at fuelling, and today was no different to any other protocol I’ve done. It was just one of those days. 20 days into a Grand Tour, and your stomach is a bit cooked. I don’t think there was anything I could have done about it.”