Recent Brugge-De Panne winner Grace Brown had another strong showing today in Belgium, making it into the front split at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and sprinting to sixth place for Team BikeExchange, to display her great consistency in these tough one-day Classic races.
The Australian outfit were in a promising position with both Brown and Australian champion Sarah Roy making the front selection of 30 riders heading into the final of the race however, their luck changed as Roy was forced out of the front group due to a mechanical, leaving Brown outnumbered shortly after the winning move was made.
On the Knotenberg with 30km to go, Annemiek van Vleuten and Kasia Nieuwiadoma attacked and quickly opened up a gap and were never to be seen again despite a hard chase from behind. The two leaders fought it out for the race honours but with the chasing bunch close behind, with the duo in sight as they barrelled down final finishing straight to sprint for the minor placings.
Finding every last ounce of effort in her legs, Brown took a solid sixth place ahead of the big event on Sunday, the Tour of Flanders.
“We were in a pretty good position with both myself and Roy in the front group in the final, but she needed a bike change and then was no longer in the front group, so it was just me.
“With the two girls up the front and then Trek-Segafredo controlling the main bunch, the chase, and attacking it was pretty hard for me to do anything to counter that.
“I made a few attacks on the cobble section but didn’t get any gaps really, my legs just didn’t have the juice today. I tried in the sprint and I think I got top-10.”
Martin Vestby (Sport Director)
“We had both Grace and Roy in the front group and that was also our goal today to have them both there in that kind of position. It was bad luck for Roy and then Grace was by herself and it is difficult to contribute to the chase when you are there alone. I think it would have changed our position a bit if we had Roy and Grace together in the front then we could really start to chase and in that kind of group Roy was on of the faster ones as well.
“We hoped some of the other teams that were sat with numbers could have helped out a little bit as well. The group was closing in but they took a wrong turn there in the last kilometre. I think with a couple of the girls there chasing, if they had gone the right way it could have been even closer. It has been a really hard race today.”
2021 Dwars Door Vlaanderen Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten
2. Kasia Niewiadoma
3. Alexis Ryan
6. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images