A year ago at the Australian Road National Championships, Brodie Chapman delivered a start to the 2023 season that left her flying high and looking for more. She was about to head to Europe to race with Lidl-Trek, one of the most powerful squads in the women’s peloton, in the green and gold jersey as Australian national road champion.
Sadly that striking solo victory in Buninyong turned out to be a high point. Chapman was knocked off course and came crashing down to earth before she had even left Australia.
First there was a positive COVID-19 test just as she was about to get on the plane, which left her bed-ridden for ten days and unable to eat. Then after recovering and returning to racing, Chapman crashed at Gent-Wevelgem leaving her with a broken sacrum.
Returning to racing in June, it seemed like there was still enough of the year remaining to turn it back around, but then frequent respiratory infections intervened. 2023 proved to be very testing.
“Usually every season you are trying to go beyond, you push your limits and find new limits but it was about only just reaching the bare minimum,” Chapman told Cyclingnews, in a matter-of-fact assessment of the year that was.
It would have been difficult to so calmly look over a year that had promised so much, but ultimately delivered obstacle after obstacle, whilst in the midst of it. Particularly as this had been a season where Chapman could have been expected to make her biggest leap yet. She had progressed from Tibco-SVB in 2018 to FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope in 2020 and through to one of the most powerful squads in the peloton, Lidl-Trek, in 2023.
“First year on a new team, you want to impress and show up and you also want to step up a level,” said Chapman. “That’s part of the reason I went to Trek and I knew that they were well-resourced enough to support that.”
So while it is understandable that there may have been disappointment at how the year turned out, even looking beyond the national championships road race win, the season can hardly be counted as an unmitigated disaster.
“I was able to do my job, you know, go to some races, be part of some team wins so that was nice,” said Chapman.
“But yeah, I certainly didn’t achieve what I knew I had the form to achieve or what I was capable of, especially with the support of Lidl-Trek, they have been incredible.”
There are some strong foundations set for 2024.