Brown to defend cycling title after crash

Roger Vaughan

Five months after her devastating race crash, Grace Brown is ready to return when she defends her time trial title at the national road cycling championships in Ballarat.

The 27-year-old Brown was enjoying a strong debut season with top Australian team Mitchelton-Scott last August when she crashed out of stage four in the Tour of Norway.

She suffered four fractured ribs, a punctured lung and large gash to her left forearm.

It was easily the worst crash of Brown's racing career and prematurely ended her season, only a month before she was due to represent Australia at the world road championships for a second consecutive year.

Brown returned to training in November and, after some tough weeks, feels ready to race again.

"A lot of the build back up was a bit of a slog, particularly not feeling top," she told AAP.

"But it's always the case - in the last couple of weeks, all the pieces seem to fall into the right place.

"I've started feeling pretty good and I'm feeling a bit more confident about the racing ahead of resuming at nationals."

Defending her time trial crown is the first goal for Brown in a year where she hopes to make the Tokyo Olympics road team.

Brown's best chance of an Olympics debut will be as a domestique in the four-women road race team, riding in support of main medal hope Amanda Spratt.

She hopes to prove her road race form at the February 1 Cadel Evans Road Race in Geelong and then the famed European cobbled classics in March and April, such as Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.

Even if Brown wins the Australian time trial championship, it is highly unlikely she would make the Tokyo road team based on that result and so her main priority is proving to selectors she will have strong form for the road race.

Brown is under no illusions how hard it will be to make the strong women's road team as one of the three support riders for Spratt.

"Everyone is going to be trying to get the best results they can," Brown said.

"It really depends on how the cards fall in terms of my performance, compared to everyone else's."