Grace Brown to end season early as shoulder injury requires surgery

MORTEGLIANO ITALY JULY 09 Grace Brown of Australia and Team BikeExchange at start during the 32nd Giro dItalia Internazionale Femminile 2021 Stage 8 a 1294km stage from San Vendemiano to Mortegliano GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 09 2021 in Mortegliano Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) heading to the start line at the Giro d'Italia Donne on stage 8, the day where she crashed and injured her shoulder (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Grace Brown has discovered that she needs surgery on her shoulder after an injury from more than a month ago failed to heal, which means she’ll miss out on her final races with Team BikeExchange as well as a World Championships with a course that looks ideal for the Australian rider.

The 29 year-old crashed during stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia Donne in early July, with the initial medical report stating that she had hurt muscle in her shoulder and had some deep cuts that needed to heal. Brown pulled out of the race following the injury to allow for recovery ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she competed in the road race and rode to fourth place in the time trial. However, It then turned out that her break from racing following Tokyo would need to be longer than anticipated.

"Off-season is here ... much earlier than expected or desired," said Brown in an Instagram post. 

“What seemed to be a benign shoulder injury over a month ago, has stubbornly hung around and revealed itself as something more serious. My tendons have pulled some bone fragments from the head of my humerus and are preventing proper healing. Basically I need surgery if I don't want a bung shoulder for life.”

The World Championships to be held in Flanders had been one of the season’s big goals for Brown. She was not only the obvious rider for Australia to get behind and support in the road race on September 25, with its Classics style course, but her strong time trial performance at Tokyo also makes her a clear podium contender in the race against the clock.

Even with injury looking set to bring an early end to her season, Brown has undoubtedly had the best year of her career in 2021. She did break through with her first European win in 2020 but this year she has taken her racing to a whole new level, leaving her stepping into events across a diversity of terrain with the confidence and power to reach for the podium.

Brown has stood on the podium seven times this year and taken two Women’s WorldTour victories, the first at Brugge de Panne and then a stage win at Vuelta a Burgos. That makes her the most successful rider on the team by far at this point of the season, with her wins currently the only 2021 victories in the top tier of racing that the Team BikeExchange women have secured. 

Brown's time racing with the Australian squad, where she spent her first three years as a professional, is now over as she is moving at the end of this season. The former runner is heading to FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope having signed with the French squad for the next two years to add a strong Classics and time trial option to the team which has a strong core of climbers. 

“I'm sad about all the good things I will miss, especially my final races with [Team BikeExchange] and the Flanders World Championships,” said Brown. “But I also need to remember that I've had such a good year up to this point, and I can be satisfied with that.”

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Australia Editor

Simone is a degree-qualified journalist that has accumulated decades of wide-ranging experience while working across a variety of leading media organisations. She joined Cyclingnews as a Production Editor at the start of the 2021 season and has now moved into the role of Australia Editor. Previously she worked as a freelance writer, Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg. Cycling was initially purely a leisure pursuit for Simone, who started out as a business journalist, but in 2015 her career focus also shifted to the sport.