Grace Brown (Holden Women’s Cycling Team) was in dominant form under drizzling Tasmanian skies on Friday, blitzing the 14.8-kilometre time trial course to secure stage one of the Mersey Valley Tour and take the leader’s jersey with a time of 19:36.01
A picturesque opening stage saw riders brave the elements during an oceanside race from Ulverstone to Penguin and back. Brown was six seconds too fast for team-mate Erin Kinnealy, while a third-placed finish by Lisen Hockings ensured that it was an entirely Holden Women’s Cycling Team podium.
“We are doing pretty well with time trials at the moment,” joked Brown after her win, which comes a week after the team took all three podium places at the Tour of the South West’s first stage.
“Today was a great race. The conditions were a bit wet, which made it really fast on the road. Holden came through with first, second, third and fourth – a perfect result for the team.”
Team Manager Julien Knuppel was ecstatic after the win which consolidated the position of Holden Women’s Cycling at the top of both the Subaru National Road Series team’s and individual (Shannon Malseed) standings.
“Today’s performance gives us options for the rest of the Tour,” said Knuppel. “All the girls are versatile, so it is a great position to be in. We are happy with the consistency we are showing on and off the road at the moment.”
The Mersey Valley Tour continues on Saturday with one of the most feared climbs in Australian cycling, the infamous Gunns Plains ascent. A regular feature on both this Tour and its iconic sibling, the Tour of Tasmania, the peloton will face Gunns Plains in the latter part of a 74.8-kilometre road race from Ulverstone to Riana. Hockings won the equivalent stage last year in her debut Subaru National Road Series Tour, and is hoping for another strong outing.
“It is a really tough climb,” admitted the Victorian. “The local riders definitely have an advantage given they train here regularly. It The climb is very steep and does not suit me quite as much as I would like, given my taller height, but I am looking forward to another fun day on the bike.”