Aussie Focus

Brown takes first WorldTour win with solo success at Brugge-De Panne

Australian Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) soloed clear of a stellar group of sprinters in Belgium as she took her first WorldTour victory in emphatic style at Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne.

Grace Brown

Australian Grace Brown of Team Bikeexchange celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the one-day race the Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne . Source: Getty

The Victorian made the decisive split of 13 riders in the Moeren crosswinds section with 35 kilometres to go, with the 28-year-old positioned at the head of the peloton. A combination of unfortunate crashes and the wind saw the race splinter apart, with Australians Sarah Roy and Jessica Allen victims of falls. 

Roy was up and about to congratulate Brown by the finish, but Allen was taken to hospital with a broken collarbone and she'll undergo surgery.

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As the only Team BikeExchange rider in the front split, Brown knew her best chance of victory was to go solo and with 10 kilometres remaining in the race she launched a fierce attack on the flat. The 2020 Brabantse Pijl winner quickly opened up a gap of more than 20 seconds as the group took a while to organise an effective chase.

Brown took full advantage of the hesitation behind as she held the chasers at bay and powered to a superb solo victory, her first in the women’s WorldTour.

“I’m in shock really, because the first half of the race I didn’t feel like I was racing very well, but then I managed to get into the echelon," said Brown. "I was the only one of our team in that group and all the other top sprinters were there, so I knew that if I was going to have any chance I’d have to attack at some point. So I gave it a go, I didn’t think I’d pull it off, but I did!

“The gap got up to 20 seconds and it sort of held around there most of the time, I think it came down a little bit towards the end, but I just managed to hold on."



The 158.8 kilometre race is one of the longest on the women's calendar, with Brown describing the importance of her teammate's work early to keep her in contention.

“Teniel and Ari did a really good job in the crosswinds, especially on the first local lap, that created the first split in the peloton and then I think all the other teams were ready for that point on the second lap and that’s when it split the second time. The girls were really helpful getting me into position just before that happened, so it was a good team effort.”

Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) led the sprinters home to take second after a long sprint to the line, just seven seconds behind Brown, with Jolien D'Hoore (SD-Worx) in third. 

Australians Chloe Hosking, seventh, and Lauretta Hanson (both Trek-Segafredo), twelfth, were prominent throughout the stage and appear to both be in good form ahead with Gent-Wevelgem the next classic on the menu.

SBS is the place to watch the classics action this European spring! We'll have all the action from the women's and men's Gent-Wevelgem this Sunday, with coverage starting on SBS HD and SBS On Demand at 10.30pm AEDT for the men's event and 01.45am AEDT for the women's.


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3 min read
Published 26 March 2021 at 8:38am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS