Days after her first European podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Australian Grace Brown has taken her first European win in impressive style at Brabantse Pijl today.
Showing her incredible form, Brown attacked and passed a solo leader with 18km remaining before extending her lead ahead of a chase by Team Sunweb for a statement solo victory.
Fast and furious start
As soon as the flag dropped Mitchelton-SCOTT started as they meant to go on and went to the front of the peloton to drive the pace, forcing the race into one long line as they navigated through the narrow, twisty Belgian roads.
Despite the nature of the course and a relentless procession of climbs, the elastic didn’t snap, and the peloton remained as one large group until they entered the finish line for the first time with just over 40km to go.
Race Lights Up
Mavi Garcia (Ale-BTC Ljubljana) and Katia Ragusa (Astana Pro Team) jumped away from the bunch which continued to whittle down just after the first passage of the line. As the first real move of the day, the peloton was attentive with riders trying to bridge across, including Brown.
The move eventually came back and the action really began with fresh new attacks and continuous splits as the peloton yo-yoed back and forth.
The Winning Move
Shortly after, with around 30km to go Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB) took advantage of a lull in the peloton and attacked away solo, hovering around 30 seconds ahead. Over the following climbs Brown tried to force the peloton to chase but with no cohesion the Australian waited, recovered and then launched the race winning move.
Within seconds Brown had successfully made the junction to Stephens on a cobbled climb but, not leaving anything to chance, the 28-year-old powered straight past and went on ahead in solo pursuit of victory.
Despite a hard chase behind from Team Sunweb duo, Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij, the former Australian time trial champion was able to increase her advantage and fly to a spectacular solo for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
“It is pretty exciting to cross the line first for my first time in Europe. I took confidence from Sunday into today’s race and I think that really helped me. I have made a bit of a jump in this last week which is really cool.
“On that final lap I just saw an opportunity when girls where attacking and there was a bit of confusion and I just decided to attack and go for it.
“When I got across to Stephens it was on a cobbled section and she tried to ride the gutter and then was struggling to come across to me and completed lost momentum, so I decided to just go.
“Then into the final I heard that the Sunweb riders were trying to come across and I was getting time gaps and it was sort of the opposite of Sunday in Liège.
“The time was coming down and I was pretty on the limit but once we hit the headwind it started to go out again, so I felt pretty confident then with just a few kilometres left to finish.”
2020 Brabantse Pijl Result:
1. Grace Brown (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:03:38
2. Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) +0:47
3. Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) +0:51
Photos courtesy of Getty Images