• Grace Brown. (Con Chronis/Cycling Australia)Source: Con Chronis/Cycling Australia
After just missing out on road titles at the FedUni Road National Championships Mitchelton-Scott bagged the two elite time trial titles on offer with Grace Brown and Luke Durbridge.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
8 Jan 2019 - 5:49 PM  UPDATED 9 Jan 2019 - 11:21 AM

Brown staked her claim to the crown vacated by Katrin Garfoot, emerging as by far the strongest in the elite women’s time trial at the national championships.

The Mitchelton-Scott neo-professional set the fastest time at the mid-way mark, but it was the second half of the course where she really distanced her competitors, increasing her 11 second lead over second placed Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott) to a minute and 33 seconds by the finish, with Kate Perry (Specialized Womens Racing) 11 seconds further back in third.

An ecstatic Brown celebrated with a congratulatory call from her father and explained her emotions after taking the biggest win of her career.

“I think with time trialling the first emotion is always relief,” Brown said, “you always have an idea and it’s about executing that on the day, plus what everyone else can do on the day.

“I’m relieved to get the time and be a national champ for the team as well. We had a tough day on Sunday and it’s really awesome that we’re leaving with a national championships jersey.”

The motivation for the win had been building for a year for the Camperdown local, with the memory of finishing just off the podium in 2018 still fresh in her mind.

“Last year I finished fourth here, just six seconds off the podium and I was really disappointed with that. I came here this year really wanting to win and I think when you’re hungry it becomes a lot easier.

Brown is somewhat of a specialist in the time trial, building a reputation domestically as unbeatable in the race against the clock and now extending that prowess to WorldTour level opposition.

“I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the time trial bike,” Brown said. “I always train a bit for time trials regardless on what’s coming up, it’s just something that you have to keep practising.”

Garfoot had been the rider with a mortal lock on the race in past editions, but the German-Australian’s retirement has left a hole at the top of the time trial pecking order, so much so that Australia didn’t even send a representative to the world championships for the women last year.

“I see Kat Garfoot’s path as something I can follow and the time it took her to progress to being one of the top time triallists in the world, I can follow that as well,” Brown said.

With the result, Brown has laid claim to being the pre-eminent Aussie against the clock, with the potential to lock down a spot for world championships selection and the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I hope so, I’ll definitely work towards it,” she said. ”If you don’t dream it will never come. Definitely Tokyo is one my mind.

“It’s going to be really hard to make that team, we have so many strong riders at the moment, but if I put my hand up for the time trial it gives me that little bit extra.”

The 2018 National Road Series champion showed last year her ability, riding a stint with World Tour team Wiggle-High5 and earning selection to the world championships where she performed ably in support of Amanda Spratt.

A first-year in the World Tour with Mitchelton-Scott beckons for Brown with high expectations for the powerful 26-year-old.

Durbridge wins his third career TT title

Durbridge sprung a major surprise to beat world champion Rohan Dennis by 21 seconds as he claimed his third national title in the discipline, the first since 2013.

Cameron Meyer, third in the road race, hung the same medal around his neck behind the pair to place three of Austalia's current golden generation on the podium.

For Durbridge the performance was remarkable after turning himself inside out in the road to finish fourth behind Meyer.

“What an incredible day actually, I’m super super happy," Durbridge said. “It’s been a long time coming, 2013 was my last victory, and to beat the world champion and the likes of Cameron Meyer on the podium, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“I stuck to my plan, I haven’t done that often. I probably get a bit emotional every time I go into a time trial and just go out way too hard, but I stuck to my plan and brought it home.

“Me and my coach Ben Day have really been working hard on this and I’m just glad that it’s come together.

“I have to thank my family and my wife Lara for all their support, it’s been a long time of questioning a lot of things and now I have the medal to show for it.

It’s been an amazing week with my brother-in-law (Michael Freiberg) winning the road race and me winning the time trial. Bring on the Tour Down Under.”

Roadnats: Gigante and Magennis win under 23 TT titles
Sarah Gigante that added to her elite and under 23 road race wins with a time trial crown, beating out Anya Louw (TIS Racing) by a minute and four seconds with Jaime Gunning (Specialised Womens Racing) third, two minutes and 19 seconds adrift.