When one takes a look at the women’s Subaru NRS standings, it is easy to see Holden Cycling has begun 2017 on a high.
Louisa Lobigs claimed the honours at the season’s opening event, the Tour of East Gippsland, with team mate Shannon Malseed giving Holden a hold on the top two individual spots and a commanding lead on the team’s standings.
However a closer look reveals a third team member sitting fifth overall is Victoria’s Grace Brown, who – while currently unknown to most – is certainly making a name for herself on the women’s cycling scene.
“I’m fairly pleased with how the season has kicked off,” said St Kilda Cycling Club’s Brown, 24. “It’s particularly awesome that I’m in the top five with two of my Holden teammates.
“Still being relatively new to cycling, I have a long list of things that I want to improve on. Obviously I would love to stand on the top step of the podium, but know that I need to be patient with the process of getting there.”
Being new to cycling is an understatement with Brown, a former cross country and middle distance runner, only taking up the sport in late 2015 after numerous injuries including a stress fracture for the second time in six months.
“After that, I decided the sport wasn’t for me and my Dad had been insisting for a number of years that I maybe wasn’t built for running and that my physique might be more suited to cycling,” said Brown, who bought a bike and within a month, found a riding group in Melbourne and was quickly hooked.
“I soon found myself cycling most mornings with the Beach road group, Route 33. I then tried out some crit racing, but was more keen to get involved in road racing,” she added.
“I couldn’t wait for the VRS to begin in late February, so decided enter to the 2016 National Road Championships. I was definitely out of my depth, but the race gave me perspective on where I could aim for.
“I decided then that I would find a coach, start training for the next Nationals and hopefully land a contract with a Subaru NRS team.”
It was a meteoric rise for Brown who went on to win the 2016 Victorian Road Series in her debut racing season, gaining the attention of a number of NRS teams in the process, most notably Holden who signed her in the off season.
At February’s Tour of East Gippsland, Brown finished fifth overall for Holden in what was just her second career NRS event after debuting at the 2016 Mersey Valley Tour as a guest rider for Bike Bug.
“The VRS is an accessible and friendly racing scene, which helped me quickly build some race experience and confidence on the bike. It’s a perfect stepping stone to the NRS,” said Brown, who balances training, racing and full time work in the field of Business Management Consulting.
“Holden was my first preference when I was looking to join an NRS team. From what I’d seen and heard they Holden girls had a great attitude to racing and could have fun at the same time.
“The experience so far has been beyond my expectations. I think recent results are a real demonstration of the team’s strengths.
“We have very talented riders, but also great team dynamics and support from management. Everyone is willing to learn and help each other out so that we’re always improving.
“The few months that I’ve been with Holden have helped develop into a more complete cyclist. I’m excited to continue that journey and learn from my experienced teammates. “
And while she continues to strive for more great NRS results, the heart of her passion lies with more than just podium places.
“There are so many things to love about cycling,” she revealed. “At a base level, it’s a great outlet. I use riding to switch off. I love being outdoors, exploring new roads. It also forms a large part of my social life.
“But the big thing that gets me through hard training rides is the thrill of improving.
“Cycling is so multifaceted that there’s always a new aspect to work on. It never gets boring.”
Learn more about Holden Cycling at www.holdencycling.com.au