Villumsen's Olympic bid starts with World Championship gold

Danish-born New Zealander turns around series of near-misses

Linda Villumsen has a few days to digest finally winning her first UCI Road World Championshiptime trial victory after years of near misses before she and her coach Marco Pinotti head to Rio to look at the 2016 Olympic Games time trial course and begin plotting their strategy for Olympic gold.

Villumsen had a perfect ride in Richmond, pacing herself evenly along the course and using all of her strengths to knock American Kristin Armstrong out of the hot seat. The tension grew as the next eight riders came through, going close but not quick enough to knock the Kiwi out of the top spot.

"I was so used to being second, third, fourth or fifth... it was a day where everything played out my way," Villumsen said. "I started to believe in it about halfway through, even though I didn't have any split times and I didn't know what was going on was behind me. I just gave it what I could, and felt really good all the way. I thought maybe this is my day."

Cyclingnews spoke to her coach Marco Pinotti, who said Villumsen's year with UnitedHealthcare, racing mainly criteriums, lacked stage races and high profile international events, so they had to be inventive with their training strategy for Worlds.

"The key was the approach in the last two months," Pinotti said. "She didn't have a perfect year with the different racing season, mostly in the US and no stage races, she was missing the races. So we made sure that the training load was done in a good way, and she felt her form was increasing.

"We did a good altitude block between the end of July to around August 20," he said, adding that this seemed to work well and could be repeated again next year. "We are going to Rio to see the course next week - this year was a kind of trial, we did the altitude block of training about six weeks before coming here, and it worked out well. So we might want to repeat that next year. We start planning for that tomorrow."

Villumsen has been working with Pinotti since the winter of 2009 - she was second in the Worlds time trial in 2011 and 2013, third in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and finally broke through with a Commonwealth Games gold last year.

Pinotti said the effort for Scotland cost her, however, and she was unable to build back up for Worlds and finished a distant ninth in Ponferrada.

"This year she had a long year to build up," he said. "We didn't have any comparison between her and her competitors. We knew she was in good form, but you can end up fifth and still be in good form. For example, Kristin Armstrong won the last time trial Linda did in Colorado."

What was the difference in Richmond? "I think the cornering was very good," Pinotti said. "She needed to only be reminded of the corner. She paced it perfectly, the same time in the first and second split. The other two riders [Anna van der Breggen and Lisa Brennauer, second and third -ed] were a little faster in the first part, but she used her strength in the race. She's not a climber like the others, she used her strength in the climb. She's not explosive, she raced according to her ability."

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