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Linda Villumsen (New Zealand).
Happy to get through nervous road race ahead of time trial
Linda Villumsen has finished on the podium at the UCI time trial world championships for the past three years. It’s the time trial which is her strongest discipline although she’s an accomplished road racer, riding for the Orica-AIS presented by GreenEdge team. Villumsen finished 5th at the Beijing Olympic Games road race whilst riding for Denmark but she has ridden for New Zealand since becoming a citizen in 2009.
"Olympics is like a dream and the second one is unbelievable. It was maybe not an accident that I went the first time but at least this time I feel more ready, and more happy and lots more proud," she told Fairfax NZ.
While her result in Beijing was pleasing, this time she is a real contender to win a medal in London. Her two bronze and one silver medals at the past three world championships are proof that she can perform at the world’s biggest events.
"I'm confident but there's a lot of good riders around, and a lot who have come back from retirement to do the time trial and they're very strong [such as American Kristin Armstrong and Canadian Clara Hughes]. They haven't been racing much in Europe, just in the US and Canada so we'll see how they go," she said.
Villumsen rode the road race as the single New Zealand participant and while she wasn’t overly happy with her 18th place in the London Olympic road race, a early fall and dangerous conditions meant that simply crossing the line relatively unscathed was more important than risking another fall to gain a better result.
"It happened on the first climb. I was behind Armstrong and she stood up and her bike went back half a metre. I hit it, then I was alright, and then I hit the next bike and I was down. It could have been bad. Lucky it was an uphill and not a downhill," she said.
After the early crash and difficult conditions, Villumsen said she wasn’t able to react to the moves as she would have liked. The women began the 140km on wet roads and the peloton experienced heavy downpours throughout the race. The narrow and twisting circuit made the race more difficult than Villumsen had expected.
"I'm not really too happy. It was hard, it was not the safest race. Everyone was nervous and there were a lot of crashes. I didn't have the good legs either so it was hard to move up in the bunch. I tried to save a little bit," she said.
Villumsen has a couple of days to recoup from the stress and crash from Sunday’s race before lining up in the women’s time trial.