Brown: we can topple Dutch cycling giants

Australia's Grace Brown believes the mighty Dutch can be beaten at the Tokyo Olympics.
Australia's Grace Brown believes the mighty Dutch can be beaten at the Tokyo Olympics.

Grace Brown and her Australian road cycling teammates aim to be the David to the Dutch Goliath at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 134km women's road race on Sunday poses essentially one question - can anyone stop the Netherlands?

Anna van der Breggen is the reigning Olympic champion and has won two of the last three road race world titles, split by her teammate Annamiek van Vleuten.

In Rio, van Vleuten was also on her way to the gold medal when she crashed horribly on the last descent.

Marianne Vos, regarded as the best women's cyclist of her generation, won the 2012 Olympic road race and is a three-time world champion.

The fourth Dutch star is Demi Vollering, also a serious medal contender.

Amanda Spratt, riding in her third Olympics, will lead the Australians and will be their key medal hope.

Brown, road captain Tiffany Cromwell and rising star Sarah Gigante are making their Olympic debuts.

While the Dutch have the better credentials, Brown is buoyant about Australia's chances.

"One of our biggest strengths is we're a really strong unit and we're aligned in our goals," she said.

"We know how each person is going to act in various situations, so there's not that stress about someone going rogue - we're basically one person, with different abilities.

"It will be an unpredictable race ... the course will suit our team quite well."

Brown also wonders whether the strength of the Dutch team might become its weakness, given there are no obvious domestiques among the four stars.

"They've basically brought a team of winners.

"There are certain situations where they will have to sacrifice someone and if they don't, they'll lose the race.

"It's something we can work with. Instead of trying to match them, we have to work around them and race really smart.

"Despite them having such a strong team, we can still compete against them."

Brown suffered a shoulder injury when she crashed out of the Giro d'Italia earlier this month, but she has recovered well.

She will also compete next Wednesday in the time trial and looms as a potential medal contender.

"I have equal interest in both events," she said.

Testing over the last couple of days has shown Brown that she is over the effects of the Giro crash.

"I'm exactly where I planned to be, so my confidence is back," she said.

Australian Associated Press