World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten might have closed the inaugural Women's Herald Sun Tour by winning the second and final stage in her rainbow jersey, but the overall victory went to a previously unheralded Australian Brodie Chapman, racing for the national team.
As a race, the Sun Tour has always been one for providing opportunities to young and upcoming Australian talent and it is a philosophy now shared by both races. Chapman's stage 1 win and overall triumph is a testament to the faith and trust placed in local riders to animate the race. Chapman's short career thus far has been one of highs and lows, spread across multiple disciplines and full-time work, but has now been punctuated by a historic win.
The stage 2 time trial was just 1.6 kilometres on a stretch of road Chapman knows well, adjacent to the Yarra River in Melbourne. At that length, her 12-second advantage over Van Vleuten was logically too large a margin even for a world champion to chase down, and would ultimately prove so with Chapman doing more than enough to hold on for a momentous victory.
"It does feel really good and I am glad I could pull it off for the team," said Chapman. "It would have been optimistic to really hold her off that much. She is the world time trial champion. My prerogative was to keep it tidy and stay safe which is what I did.
"There was a confidence that I could maintain that gap, some of that gap. I was nervous that I might be too cocky in the corners but I held it back a little bit just to make to the finish line.
"It is very satisfying to have your hard work and mental determination pay off. "
While van Vleuten is off to race the track worlds in her native Netherlands, Chapman's next race is the Snowies MTB festival in two weeks. With the Australian summer of cycling done and dusted, Chapman is hoping her win can propel her into the European road cycling.
"I would like to race my bike a lot overseas. I would just love the experience to race at a top team and amongst some girls like I have been able to this time. I just wish it could continue, " added Chapman, who is a regular rider on the NRS calendar in Australia.
Suffering a ruptured ACL last year, Chapman's injury curse continued when she was hit by a car while training, breaking her collarbone and separating her A/C joint in the incident. She was able to recover for the Australian summer, placing sixth at nationals then 15th in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. A call-up to the national team to the Women's Herald Sun Tour was a reward of sorts. Chapman is hoping another call-up isn't too far away.
First, Chapman was able to soak up the occasion and celebrate her place in cycling history as the first winner of the race.
"I am really proud to be the first woman here to win here. I am just so stoked they've put on a women's tour, " she said of the race. "My memories of the race are of watching it up on Arthurs Seat and coming here after work and everyone doing the prologue in the city. It is good memories and it is so good to be a part of it."
While the moment was of great personal achievement for Chapman, with the likes of Katrin Garfoot, Tiff Cromwell, Rachel Neylan, and Peta Mullens riding in her service, she was quick express her gratitude and thanks.
"It has been an absolute honour to have two Olympians, world championship medalists, national champions… Having such experienced girls around me has been truly awesome and I can't describe how helpful and supportive they have been," she added. "Everyone has to start somewhere and they all had their breakthrough rides. I didn't expect that they would be riding all for me in the end. I can't thank them enough for being so supportive and patient with my sometimes naivety."
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