The Tasmanian cyclist has surprised the favourites to win the elite women’s road race national championship.
Nicole Frain has surprised the favourites to win the elite women’s road race national championship in Buninyong.
On the last morning of the 2022 Federation University Road National Championships, the 29-year-old Tasmanian went solo and held off an elite group of chasers in the final stages of the 104-kilometre race.
Time trial national champion Grace Brown won the sprint for second place while young speedster Alyssa Polites stepped up from the junior ranks to take the bronze medal and the under-23 title.
Pre-race favourite Ruby Roseman-Gannon finished fourth.
Frain – a current student at Federation University – made her decisive attack in the university’s Mount Helen Campus with 3.5km to go.
Frain’s gap was never more than a handful of seconds, but the reduced peloton of 12 riders hesitated for long enough that, by the time the sprint opened up on the main street of Buninyong, she could safely raise her arms aloft and celebrate an unexpected victory.
Frain adds the national title to the bronze medal she won in last year’s time trial national championship.
“No words. I’m pretty excited, pretty happy, it’s a bit of a blur,” Frain told AusCycling.
“I think it was two laps to go when it all started coming back together and there were shots being fired. There were a lot of attacks around the back this year, which is not often the case. It’s often all up the climb and it didn’t seem to do that up the climb this year.
“I thought, if I just get a little bit of a gap I’m just all in. It’s now or never because having Ruby and that still there, I didn’t want them there, not for me, and then the gap opened. And then I was just like, ‘Don’t time trial like you did on Wednesday and you’ll be fine’.
“It probably wasn’t until it was about 50 to 100 metres to go that I thought, ‘Oh, this is real. Do I put my hands up? How do I do this?’”
Frain’s stock has been rising rapidly despite a number of setbacks.
She only began racing four years ago and suffered several crashes including one at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, which required surgery on her hand.
In her short career, Frain has won races in the National Road Series (NRS) and raced overseas with the USA-based Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank team, whom she represented in the first women’s Paris-Roubaix last year.
“I don’t like people saying you can’t do things. If someone says you can’t do it, I say, ‘I’ll show you,'” Frain said.
“I want a career [in cycling], one hundred per cent. I’m definitely stepping into it a bit deeper this year and a bit further away from my job and everything, so it feels like now or never for me. I want it.”