2020 Brabantse Pijl winner Grace Brown animated today’s mid-week Danilith Nokere Koerse, initiating the race winning move before powering to a solid second place in the 124km event.
With rain and wind greeting the riders at the start, plus a scattering of climbs and cobbles on the menu, it was all set to be a tough day out, with the Team BikeExchange rider relishing in the conditions, taking the race into her own hands.
Around the 50km to go mark, Brown launched a fierce attack and successfully opened up a gap before being joined shortly after by Amy Pieters (SD Worx) and Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM Racing). It was touch and go for the trio as the peloton, led by Trek-Segafredo, kept them on a tight leash, danglingly between 20 to 30seconds for the final kilometres.
As the bell lap rang, their gap plummeted to just 16 seconds and it looked as though their chances for victory were over. However, the trio relentlessly fought on ahead and opened up the gap back out to 35 seconds; enough to contest the victory.
Pieters used her quick turn of speed to get the better of the 28-year-old Australian, leaving Brown to settle for second place, a solid result at the start of her Classics campaign.
Grace Brown – 2nd
“I felt strong today and can really feel my Classics form building now. The first part of the race was a bit hectic, but as riders started to tire I settled into the peloton a bit better.
“On the final big lap we had planned to start riding aggressively. Other teams seemed to have the same idea and the peloton split with just 25 or so in the front. I took an opportunity when the pace lulled a little to attack on a small cobbled climb. I realised that it was going to be really hard in those conditions to ride solo, so I was please to be joined by Pieters and Klein.
“I was feeling strong in the break and maybe did a bit more work than the others. I felt determined for the move to stick!
“The other two wouldn’t come around me in the final lead-in to the line, so I decided I would just go all out from the bottom of the cobbled climb. Unfortunately Amy Pieters has a really strong finishing kick and was able to come around me.
“It would have been awesome to win, but I’m happy with how I raced and am feeling confident ahead of some of the bigger Belgian cobble classics.”
2021 Danilith Nokere Koerse Results:
1. Amy Pieters (SD Worx) 3:13:52
2. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) ST
3. Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM Racing) +0:04
Photo courtesy of Getty Images