• Brodie Chapman. (Jean-Pierre Ronco)Source: Jean-Pierre Ronco
Brodie Chapman pulled off a superb performance in the first ever edition of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour for women and etched her name into the history book as the first stage victor and likely race-winner.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
31 Jan 2018 - 8:11 AM 

For Chapman, the opportunity to ride against WorldTour opposition and some of the best riders had come from nowhere, she has raced very little recently at National Road Series level and was an unknown quantity heading into the summer.

Strong performances at nationals (6th) and Cadels (15th) have now been surpassed by a victory at the Herald Sun Tour. For Chapman, it comes not just as it appears to the cycling public, a purple patch of form, but after a long, hard struggle to return from multiple setbacks.

Chapman solos to women's Herald Sun Tour lead
Brodie Chapman held off a charging Annemiek van Vleuten to win the first stage of the Women's Herald Sun Tour.

“Last year I had an ACL reconstruction,” Chapman said. “And then not long after I got better from that I got hit by a car and separated my A/C joint. It gives you that… you feel so beat down that just have to give it everything.

“I ride my bike a lot, I check in with myself a lot and I have a lot of mentors around me that believe in me. I understand it looks like I’ve come out of nowhere, but given the time I’ve had off, the opportunities aren’t always there and it’s nice to have the chance to do something with my legs finally.”

Chapman’s win wasn’t just impressive because of the stature of the race or the competition, the manner in which she took it was also notable. Attacking off the front with 70km remaining, she was reeled back by a chasing group, which is normally the end of most riders chances in a race.

She then kicked away again on the final climb holding off a peloton which included climbing talents like Katrin Garfoot and Lucy Kennedy (Michelton-Scott) before the world time trial champion, Annemiek van Vleuten (Michelton-Scott), launched over the top of the climb and came after Chapman on the descent.

“I think it was good that I didn’t know it was the world time trial champ,” Chapman said. “And retrospectively it makes me nervous. But when you’re out there you’re not thinking about not doing the best you can. You have to talk to yourself a lot throughout.”

“I was like ‘you got this, keep pedalling, you’re almost there, just ride as hard as you can because you get to stop at the finish line’.”

The versatile athlete, who has competed in downhill MTB and cyclocross, holds a 12 second lead over van Vleuten heading into the 1.6km time trial in the centre of Melbourne. After the display to hold off her more decorated foe, Chapman will be the unbackable favourite to win the maiden Womens Herald Sun Tour.

“Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” she said. “Annemiek is a damn good bike rider and I’m just going to go as fast I can for two kilometres.”

While there’s plenty of celebrating to do in the present, the future beckons for Chapman, very keen to turn her current form into an opportunity to go overseas.

“I hope there are more races to do, but in my short career, it’s the peak. I want to go race bikes overseas, I just want to race bikes more.”

Chapman has already begun to turn heads, with Waowdeals Sports Director Jereon Blijlevens heard asking if the 26-year-old had a team already. When Chapman was told she was effusive about any hint of a chance of riding with the team of multiple world champion Marianne Vos.

“I got to ride with Marianne Vos at the Giro Della Donna and that’s just one of the greatest things," she said. “To sit down at dinner with her and to ride up those climbs with her. To race in a team with her would be a dream come true.

“I know she’s a good chick, we both rode mountain bike pedals up the hill that day and hopefully some opportunities come my way now.”

If she makes the most of those opportunities in a similar fashion to how she took her chances this summer, Chapman will soon be a household name across the Australian cycling scene.