Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ) has defended her elite women’s national individual time trial title for a third consecutive year at the 2024 Federation University RoadNats Ballarat, winning by a slim 6.89-second margin ahead of Brodie Chapman (Lidl-Trek) at the Mt Helen campus.
The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships time trial silver medallist led at every intermediate time check over the 28.6km course and finished in a time of 40:51.30 - seven seconds quicker than her victory last year.
But the win didn’t come in the same comfort of years prior, with the 31-year-old surviving a fast-finishing charge from Chapman, who was clawing back time over the final 10 kilometres of the two-lap circuit.
“It’s always nerve-wracking coming and doing the time trial straight up, not really knowing exactly where my form sits compared to everyone else,” Brown said.
“It was probably not my best time out on this course and it was quite tough, but I feel like I paced myself really well for where I’m at.
“I think Brodie was closing in on me on the second lap.
“I died a bit but I was always to keep fairly steady, so given where I’m at I think I did a good race.”
Brown entered as the clear pre-race favourite on Thursday afternoon and was expected to be challenged by a resurgent Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step Cycling Team), who won the title in 2020 and 2021.
However, Gigante suffered a mechanical problem at the very start of her race, unable to shift gears on her time trial bike. Although she was allowed to restart, she did so on her road bike, effectively ruling her out of a medal.
The final standings produced the same podium as 2023, with the only change being Chapman’s improvement to silver, which bumped Georgie Howe (Liv AlUla Jayco) down to bronze after finishing 36.35 seconds behind Brown.
For Brown, another year in the national time trial champion kit of Australia comes as a handy reassurance ahead of a huge 2024 campaign, and after a minor injury hiccup in the off-season.
“I didn’t have the smoothest off-season; I’ve been dealing with a bit of an injury that’s set me back. Not majorly, but probably not exactly where I hope to be at this point but it’s not a major disaster,” Brown said.
“It’s an overuse injury, a bit of a disc bulge injury in my lower back. So just a funny one that’s been bothering me.
“It’s an injury that I know I can continue to perform with, but it would be nice for it not to be there.”
Chapman was full of positivity post-race, and vividly buoyed to get so close to Brown on the day.
“I was really nervous about this one because it was more of my focus this year so I’m glad it’s out of the way in that sense,” Chapman said.
“Grace is one of the best time triallists in the world.
“She is a world medallist and I reckon on track to be an Olympic medallist too.
“I stepped up one extra place this year and being that close to Grace really feels good – it keeps me hungry you know.
“I just tried to keep saying to myself like faster, faster, faster - can you go faster?!
“And yeah, I had a few little mechanical issues, but it is what it is on the day, maybe some of it was user issue ... I don't know.”
Ella Simpson upsets strong field to win U23 title
Ella Simpson (ARA Skip Capital) has recorded a second upset victory at Ballarat in as many years, winning the U23 women’s individual time trial national championship.
Simpson, the defending U23 road race national champion, pipped last year’s junior world champion Felicity Wilson-Haffenden (Lidl-Trek) to the title by 12.93 seconds, with Canyon//SRAM’s Neve Bradbury finishing third, a further 22 seconds behind.
“I’m in shock to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like it’s just happened,” Simpson said.
“But I’m really proud of the ride I put together and I’ve got to be stoked with beating two WorldTour riders.
“I told myself I could win and that’s a mindset I think you have to go into a race like this with, but honestly I’m so shocked, I didn’t think I would win so it’s a good day.”
Elite Women Individual Time Trial
Grace BROWN (FDJ-SUEZ) 40:51.30
Brodie CHAPMAN (Lidl-Trek) +6.89
Georgie HOWE (Liv AlUla Jayco) +36.35
Anya LOUW (AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step Cycling Team) +1:01.48
Lauretta HANSON (Lidl-Trek) +1:30.44
Emily WATTS (Duolar-Chevalmeire) +1:41.47
Nicole FRAIN (HESS Cycling) +1:41.87
Georgia BAKER (Liv AlUla Jayco) +1:44.36
Ella SIMPSON (ARA Skip Capital) +2:26.96
Felicity WILSON-HAFFENDEN (Lidl-Trek) +2:39.89
U23 Women Individual Time Trial
Ella SIMPSON (ARA Skip Capital) 43:18.27
Felicity WILSON-HAFFENDEN (Lidl-Trek)
Neve BRADBURY (Canyon//SRAM)
Sophie MARR (ARA Skip Capital)
Mackenzie COUPLAND (Liv AlUla Jayco Continental)
Demi BIRCH (Parramatta CC)
Talia APPLETON (Team BridgeLane)
Bronte STEWART (ARA Skip Capital)
Sophia SAMMONS (Cycling Development Foundation)
Haylee FULLER (Team BridgeLane)