After a number of almosts and near misses Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) finally won the major title her vast palmares have been lacking, taking gold in the women’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Thursday.
The 29-year-old set off last in the 29.6 kilometre test, and despite running second behind every intermediate time check came through to beat Emma Pooley (England) by six seconds.
"It means more than any words can describe," a delighted Villumsen said at the finish.
"It’s something that we’ve worked towards for the last four years. Every year I’ve been nearly there at worlds, nearly there, so this is a confidence boost that I can’t describe."
Villumsen has long been one of the most consistent and successful women riders on the professional circuit, but her record of results showed a collection of silver and bronzes at major championships. She came third in the Worlds time trial in 2009, third again a year later, and second in the Commonwealth Games that year, too. She was second in the Worlds in 2011, while in 2012 she picked up another silver and bronze and finished fourth in the Olympic time trial.
When she decided to hang up her bike for several months after that season it looked as though she would leave the sport for good. However she came back with Wiggle Honda and since then has found her form and confidence.
"It’s been hard being nearly there in the past but not quite. It’s been a bit of a smack to the confidence when you think you can win and then you see you’re second, third or fourth so when you see your name as number one I couldn’t quite believe it. It’s amazing," she said.
"The London Olympics was hard. I can’t hide that I had a few difficult months after that. I took a few months off the bike and thought whether this was something that I really wanted to do and if wanted to do another two or four years just to miss out again, but I can honestly say that it’s been worth it. I wanted to give it everything and try one last time."
The Danish-born rider will now take her new-found confidence from winning the gold medal in the rest of season, with another shot at the Worlds in Spain later this year.
"If I can maintain form and do well in the next few races it will be perfect."