Denmark-born cyclist Linda Villumsen will make her debut in BikeNZ colours at this month’s Women’s Tour of New Zealand, after becoming a New Zealand citizen last month. Villumsen was named in a strong BikeNZ squad for February 24-28 race, which included track rider Alison Shanks.
Race director Jorge Sandoval said the high-profile riders’ presence at Oceania’s only International Cycling Union-registered women’s race helped raise the event’s profile. “It’s great the national team members will have world class opposition in their own country,” Sandoval said. “It also helps generate greater public interest in the NZCT tour when there are New Zealand riders figuring prominently over the five days.”
National road and criterium champion Rushlee Buchanan will join Joanne Kiesanowski, Kaytee Boyd and 2005 tour winner Cath Cheatley in the BikeNZ squad. An 11 kilometre time trial on the third day plays into the hands of the BikeNZ squad’s general classification hopes.
Villumsen was cleared by the UCI and Danish Cycling Federation to ride for New Zealand shortly after her citizenship was finalised last month. The 24-year-old rider is hopeful of qualifying to represent the nation at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.