Grace Brown may have walked away from the Olympic Games road race disappointed on Sunday but Wednesday’s individual time trial was a completely different matter. A powerful performance from the Australian rider in the race against the clock, which saw her fall just shy of the podium, has left her walking away from Tokyo with a spring in her step.
The 29 year old, who only rode her first World Championships time trial last year, has quickly stepped up to the plate as a top contender. She was in the silver medal position at the intermediate time checks during the hilly 22.1 kilometre Olympic time trial and also when she came over the line 1:08 behind the unbeatable performance by Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten.
Marlen Reusser and Anna van der Breggen, though, were still out on the road and within striking distance of Brown’s time of 31:22. First the Swiss rider came over the line 12 seconds ahead to shift the Australian out of the silver medal position. Then there was the wait to see if the Brown could hold onto that final podium spot which was being challenged by the reigning world champion, who was the last rider out on the course.
“I could see Anna van der Breggen coming towards the line, and the time counting up towards me,” Brown said. “It was so close, but she’s a phenomenal rider and I’m not surprised that she rode ahead of me.”
The Dutch rider shaved seven seconds off Brown's time, but even though the Australian's hopes of bronze were dashed there couldn’t be any disappointment after such a ride.
“Full of pain, but I think I got every little bit out of myself, and (had) nothing left to spare, so I’m happy with my result despite being so close to the podium,” Brown said after the time trial.
Not only did Brown come fourth, but her young Australian teammate Sarah Gigante also delivered 11th place in one of her first big international time trial events in the senior ranks, even though she was just coming back to racing after a horrible crash at La Flèche Wallonne which left her with fractures to her collarbone, leg, and elbow.
The time-trial results came after a tough day for Australia in the road race on Sunday where – despite having the maximum team size of four and two serious contenders in Brown and Amanda Spratt – Australia walked away without a rider in the top 20.
“I did not lose confidence for today,” Brown said. “Towards the Games, this was the event that I was preparing for, so I knew that I’d done all the work specifically for this course and its demands.
“I was disappointed on Sunday, this let’s me leave the Games with a full heart.”
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