Brodie Chapman (KordaMentha Real Estate – Australia) made history in scenic Healesville on Tuesday, winning the Thule Stage One of the first UCI-sanctioned women’s Herald Sun Tour presented by Let’s Go Motorhomes following a stunning solo effort.
“It is so good – victory tastes so sweet,” said an ecstatic Chapman, a former mountain biker who suffered a bad crash last year. “I had a rough 2017, and have been trying to get back on the bike and do something satisfying. Today was that day. A huge thanks to the KordaMentha Real Estate – Australia national team for giving me a go, BikeExchange for giving me days off work, and everyone in the team who were so good to me today.”
1. Brodie Chapman (KordaMentha Real Estate National Team)
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
3. Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini)
In overcast Victorian conditions, a star-studded peloton generated plenty of excitement along the 123.5-kilometre Yarra Valley course. Chapman asserted her dominance early, overhauling an attack from Sydney Uni – Staminade’s Jade Colligan to claim the first Gumbuya World Queen of the Mountain point. Chapman was then joined by a larger group, including team-mate Tiffany Cromwell, ahead of the decisive Myers Creek Road climb.
Chapman then went away again, collecting the second Queen of the Mountain as the race headed for a thrilling finale. A concerted effort from world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) looked to have ended Chapman’s hopes of a heroic victory, but the Queenslander held on to finish eight seconds ahead of the chasing Dutchwoman. Recent Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race winner Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini) rounded out the podium.
“I knew that if I went on the first bump, I could make the most of the descent to the second climb,” Chapman explained. “I just went as fast as I could, and hoped that I had a team-mate in the chase group. Thankfully I had Tiff Cromwell, who looked after me so well. She gave me the okay heading into the final climb, and I rode away.”
Despite a desperate individual chase from van Vleuten, the Mitchelton-SCOTT star was unable to reel in Chapman. “I was thinking I might get her,” admitted the 35-year-old. “That was my goal – I wanted to win here. I did not know who was in front, so when I caught one of the rider I was not sure if there were any more ahead of me. I just gave everything. On every small rise I thought I had to go really hard. I came really close and gave everything!”
The time trial world champion will debut her rainbow stripes in Wednesday’s time trial, where she will need to make up a 12 second advantage held by Chapman (including time bonuses). “You never know – it is a bike race!” said van Vleuten when asked of her prospects. “I will give everything to win. I am very proud to wear my rainbow jersey. But 12 seconds over 1.6-kilometres – I think she would have to walk.”
Third for Canberran Hosking continued her impressive run of form. “I train on climbs like this a lot, because they are not super steep,” said the sprinter. “I knew when I came over the top of the second climb, we did not have that much of a gap [to the leader]. But I can’t really fly under the radar at the moment, and when I started rolling no-one else would roll. So I just sat on the back and waited for the sprint.”
The women’s Herald Sun Tour powered by Let’s Go Motorhomes concludes on Wednesday with an electric 1.6-kilometre time trial in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Food trucks and entertainment will be present at Alexandra Gardens from midday. The women begin rolling out from 4pm after the celebrity corporate ride, while the men start at 5.45pm.
Chapman heads to Melbourne in the Let’s Go Motorhomes yellow jersey, in addition to leading the Gumbuya World Queen of the Mountains classification and holding the Bicycle Beer Most Aggressive title. New Zealander Grace Anderson wears the Visit Victoria – Summer of Cycling U23 jersey, while Hosking is in the Gatorade green sprinter’s colours.