Vine, Brown win time trials at nationals

Specialist climber Jay Vine has scored an upset win in the elite men's time trial at the national road cycling championships, clinching gold in his first year of participation.

A winner of two stages at last year's Vuelta a Espana, Vine only turned professional in 2021 after winning e-cycling platform Zwift Academy, and prior to the current nationals had not raced competitively in Australia since before the pandemic.

The 27-year-old registered for the nationals in Ballarat ahead of his Tour Down Under debut this week. He failed to finish the road race on Sunday but now heads to South Australia with a spring in his step.

Four-time national time-trial winner Luke Durbridge and newly-minted road race champion Lucas Plapp were the favourites for Tuesday's 37.5km-long individual dash in Ballarat.

But Townsville-born Vine, racing for UAE Team Emirates, set a formidable target of 46 minutes 38.84 seconds and was not chased down by either man, nor any of the other 16 starters.

Durbridge finished second, just 2.72 seconds behind Vine with a time of 46:41.56.

Plapp, who missed the chance to defend his title last year due to a case of COVID-19, came in fourth - 26.43 seconds adrift of Vine - after reporting mechanical issues on lap two.

Kelland O'Brien, who won the elite men's criterium on Friday, finished third in 47:04.42.

Reigning champion Rohan Dennis, one of Australia's best time-trial riders, opted to sit out this year's event but will race at the Tour Down Under later this week.

Earlier, Grace Brown won the elite women's time trial for a second consecutive year to cement her status as Australia's fastest woman against the clock.

The FDJ-Suez Futuroscope rider claimed silver in Sunday's road race despite starting as favourite but made no mistake in the time trial and will leave Ballarat with the third elite national title of her career.

The win continues a stellar six months for Brown, during which she has won gold in the time trial at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and silver in the same event at the road world championships in Wollongong.

"It's always hard in January to produce my best numbers but I think I did a good race for this time of the year," she said.

Brown was the last of 23 entrants to begin the 28.6km time trial course and came in with a time of 40:58.84.

Brown's time was marginally short of her personal best for the event - 40:58.00 - set when she came second in 2021.

Georgie Howe of Team Jayco-AlUla took silver after coming in 37.89 seconds behind Brown.

Brodie Chapman, the surprise winner of the road race on Sunday, rounded out the podium with a time of 42:03.93.

Tokyo Paralympic medallists Paige Greco, Darren Hicks and Meg Lemon won their respective events in the para-cycling time trials earlier in the day.