The expectations grow larger with every passing year for Grace Brown, but she continues to rise to the challenge.
The FDJ Suez Futuroscope and Australian Cycling Team star made it back-to-back elite women’s individual time trial national championships on the final day of the 2023 Federation University Road Nationals, winning with a margin of 37.89 seconds to Team Jayco AlUla’s Georgie Howe in second.
A surprised Brodie Chapman (Trek-Segafredo) finished third, one minute and five seconds down on Brown, adding a bronze medal to her sensational road race victory on Sunday.
Brown stopped the clock at 40 minutes and 58 seconds for the 28.6km course, averaging 41.87km/h, and dropping the marker down 30 seconds from her winning 2022 time.
It is the 31-year-old’s third elite women’s time trial national championship since 2019.
THEY SAID IT
“I always notice that there’s a little bit of expectation,” Brown said.
“Coming second at the world championships puts a little bit of a target on my back, but it doesn’t really change what I do.
“It’s an individual event and all you can do is focus on racing your best race so, I just get out and try and do my best really.
“I haven’t looked at my numbers yet but I think it was a solid race for this time of year.
“It’s always hard in January to produce my best numbers but I think I did a good race for this time of the year.
“I’m really impressed with the Aussies at the moment.
“I think Georgie Howe is going to continue to get better and better, and I better improve next year because otherwise she’ll have me if she improves the same amount from (to next year) as last year. She’s a real threat.
“And it’s awesome to see Brodie have a go at the time trial again and I think she has a lot of improvement up her sleeve as well.
“I’m happy that there’s people around pushing me to be better and better, which is what we need in Australian Cycling.”
(On the upcoming Tour Down Under) “I think it’s going to be a really good race,” Brown said.
“We’ve got mainly Aussie competitors. I think the international teams that are coming over are built around the Aussie riders so I think you’ll see the usual suspects fighting it out each stage.”
“I was really happy with the pace this year,” Howe said.
“Last year I got a bit overexcited in the first lap and I know I cooked myself.
“Whereas this year I felt way more in control. I have amazing support in both my coach and my team, I couldn’t ask for any better people to have in my corner.
“I had the fortunate event of racing Ellen van Dijk (three-time world champion) earlier last year and that was a really good test on a flat course – this is not a typical flat TT.
“But that gave me a good gauge of where I was in the world standings and I’m really excited to see what I can do with the support of this fantastic team this year in time trials but also how I can support the team in stage races and one-dayers.”
(On end of 2022 season) “It was a bit disappointing not to be selected for the world championships, but I had a fantastic time overseas and the fortunate event of being selected by Team Jayco AlUla for the 2023 and 2024 season and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this team,” Howe said.
“We’ve kickstarted a fantastic campaign and we’ve got a great vibe among the team, everyone’s in it for each other, there’s no egos. Humble and hungry for what’s to come.”
(On what she is most looking forward to in 2023) “Paris-Roubaix, that’s definitely the race that I’m really looking forward to,” Howe said.
“Can’t wait to get on the cobbles and test myself and help our teammates get up there.”
“I’m so stoked to get a medal at TT nationals,” Chapman said.
“This is a win for me – this is beautiful rose gold so I’m really happy.
“I was kind of like OK, if I can do a top-five that’ll be a win and getting on the podium with Georgie Howe and Grace Brown is so awesome.
“I’m really happy, I’ll come back next year now.
“I’d like to work on my time trial now that I know I’m alright at it.
“I’d like to now do all the one percenters because I was like you know what, I’m just going to go out there, learn my racing routine and get a feel for it to see where my limit is at. Now I’m keen to do more.”
(On long-term goals) “I’d love to go to the Olympics one day and I think the Australian team has shown that they really value people who can time trial hard so I better start now, unfortunately I think I’ll be too old for Brisbane 2032,” Chapman said.