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'It’s a relief' - Brown on target for Tour de France Femmes after Women's Tour win

Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in the overall race lead after stage 4 victory at Women's Tour
Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in the overall race lead after stage 4 victory at Women's Tour (Image credit: Getty Images)

“It was a pretty rough day out,” were Brown’s first words after crossing the Women's Tour stage 4 finish line with her first win in the colours of FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope since securing the national time trial title in January in Australia. 

The tough race into Welshpool played into Brown’s strengths and she knew she could win. Even so, she breathed a sigh of relief to have taken that long awaited victory, and moved a step closer to her upcoming goals at the Tour de France Femmes in July.  

“It’s my first win this year, and I feel like it’s been coming for a while. It’s a relief, but also really fun for the team. It’s my first win for FDJ, apart from the time trial at Nationals in January, so it’s really good,” Brown said.

Brown’s transfer from BikeExchange to FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope was one of the biggest of this season. She’s had steady growth since turning pro in 2018 and last year saw her secure two WorldTour wins at Brugge De Panne and a stage at Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. She had other outstanding performances at Tour of Flanders (3rd), the Giro d'Italia Donne mountain time trial (3rd), Olympic Games time trial (4th). However, she missed the late season races due to a shoulder injury.

Since travelling to Europe following the Australian Championships success, she’s been winding up for a big win with FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope but the closest she came was a second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas offered the chance to get a bit more stage racing in her legs as she prepares to hunt for stage wins at the Tour de France Femmes next month. 

Her stage victory at the Women’s Tour, where she outsprinted breakaway companions Kasia Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini, shows that she’s well on her way to reaching that target, not only in form but with confidence.

“I wasn’t too concerned [on being joined by Niewiadoma and Longo Borghini], it was actually quite good because you’re more likely to stay away if you’ve got three. Out of everyone there I think I can beat those two in a sprint, so I was quite happy about it actually. It was nice to have them in the final," Brown said.

"I think I played it all right, and I was able to come around at the end to win."

Brown leads the overall classification as the race heads into the queen stage, with the fifth day of the Women’s Tour boasting the event’s first-ever summit finish on Black Mountain. She holds four seconds over Niewiadoma and six over Longo Borghini.

“Obviously I want to be up there on the final climb [tomorrow], I think that’s what it’s going to come down to," said Brown. "I’m happy now that I’ve got a little bit of buffer and time, then if I finish with the top climbers then I can hopefully retain the jersey.”

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.