New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen won the elite women’s time trial at the World Championships Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia. She covered the 29.9km course in 40:30 to win the world title, beating Anna Van der Breggen (Netherlands) by less than three seconds and defending champion Lisa Brennauer (Germany) by five seconds.
Over the past seven years, Villumsen has never finished outside the top 10 in the Worlds time trial, making it onto the podium five times, including three third places and two second places. Finally reaching the top step came almost as a relief for the 30-year-old Danish-born Kiwi who became a New Zealand citizen in 2009.
"I was so used to being second, third, fourth or fifth," she said in the post-race press conference. "It was a day where everything played out my way. 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 behind me. I just gave it what I could and felt really good all the way. I thought maybe this is my day."
Two-time world champion Kristin Armstrong (USA) set the early benchmark with a 40:50 against blustery winds. Amstrong's time held until the last wave of riders started.
"I arrived there, and Armstrong was there," Villumsen said of taking her pace on the podium hot seat alongside the US rider. "Kirstin is a person I look up to and have for many years, so being ahead of her was quite a special feeling. Every minute is a very long minute [in the hot seat]. Just sitting there waiting for everyone to finish was very hard."
The conditions changed considerably by the time the final wave of riders set off, however, and Armstrong's time was quickly surpassed by Katrin Garfoot (Australia) with a 40:39 and then Villumsen, whose time topped the standings for the rest of the event.
"I don't know what the conditions were for the starters," Villumsen said. "It's always tricky in a time trial, especially when we're sent off in heats. The temperature and wind, the weather conditions can change. Last year a couple of us got rained on in the end. You never know. It's part of the time trial, I guess."
Villumsen had some stiff competition from Van der Breggen, who launched herself off the starting ramp with the fastest time at the first intermediate mark. Her subsequent intermediate splits suffered as a result and were slower than Villumsen’s final two time checks, but she was good enough to slot into second and bump Armstrong out of the podium positions.
Villumsen's winning margin of 2.54 seconds after nearly 30km of racing will no doubt haunt Van der Breggen, who told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony that she had already started thinking about places on the course where she could have cut more time.
"I'll probably think about it a lot tonight, too," she said. "I was pretty motivated after Sunday's race. I had a medal in my pocket, and it was a good start for the week of the world championships. I was pretty confident. I tried to take some things with me mentally from the team time trial. Especially for this last climb. In my opinion, that was the tricky bit, you can lose so much on this last stretch across the finish. I tried not to over-pace it - that's something I took from the team time trial - you have to have enough to give for the last final long straight to the finish."
Brennauer, a favourite heading into the event, had a slower start with only the sixth-fastest time at the first time check, but she gradually quickened her pace to finish with the bronze medal, collapsing at the finish and needing help to stand up again. Van der Breggen was in a similar condition at the finish.
The German rider said she paced her effort accurately, and in the end she was happy with her strategy.
"In the past years, especially last year, it was my big strength to do a good final," Brennauer said. "I think that's what I showed today as well. I like the long time trials. The distance suited me a lot today. I could show a good final again. You could see it this morning with the juniors, I think it was the guy who was second who gained a lot of time in the end as well. Everything was still possible, so I tried to stay with my strategy and concentrate on my race and not focus too much on the other girls' split times."
Despite the agonising efforts from Van der Breggen and Brennauer, neither rider was able to beat the time of Villumsen, who credited her move to US team UnitedHealthcare for finally boosting her onto the podium's top step.
"I had a very different year," she said. "I wanted to try something new and maybe get my motivation back high. Racing in an American team has been really good for me. I've really enjoyed it. For the time trial, a criterium is the same as a time trial, it's maximum for an hour. Maybe that's given me that last bit of top speed that I was missing."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)||0:40:30|
|2||Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands)||0:00:03|
|3||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:00:05|
|4||Katrin Garfoot (Australia)||0:00:09|
|5||Kristin Armstrong (United States Of America)||0:00:21|
|6||Evelyn Stevens (United States Of America)||0:00:27|
|7||Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands)||0:00:55|
|8||Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)||0:01:06|
|9||Ann-Sofie Duyck (Belgium)||0:01:19|
|10||Trixi Worrack (Germany)||0:01:19|
|11||Tatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)||0:01:21|
|12||Martina Sablikova (Czech Republic)||0:01:22|
|13||Tara Whitten (Canada)||0:01:26|
|14||Carmen Small (United States Of America)||0:01:28|
|15||Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)||0:01:32|
|16||Ganna Solovei (Ukraine)||0:01:38|
|17||Emma Johansson (Sweden)||0:01:48|
|18||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:02:10|
|19||Mieke Kroeger (Germany)||0:02:21|
|20||Katarzyna Pawlowska (Poland)||0:02:23|
|21||Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)||0:02:26|
|22||Audrey Cordon (France)|
|23||Eugenia Bujak (Poland)||0:02:29|
|24||Doris Schweizer (Switzerland)||0:02:43|
|25||Cecilie Johnsen (Norway)||0:02:47|
|26||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)||0:02:54|
|27||Aude Biannic (France)||0:03:11|
|28||Siobhan Horgan (Ireland)||0:03:17|
|29||Martina Ritter (Austria)||0:03:33|
|30||Silvia Valsecchi (Italy)||0:03:35|
|31||Svetlana Vasilieva (Russian Federation)||0:03:49|
|32||Lotta Lepisto (Finland)||0:03:54|
|33||Corinna Lechner (Germany)||0:03:56|
|34||Kathryn Bertine (Saint Kitts And Nevis)||0:04:07|
|35||Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador)||0:04:09|
|36||Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)||0:04:11|
|37||Lija Laizane (Latvia)||0:04:13|
|38||Enkhjargal Tuvshinjargal (Mongolia)||0:04:16|
|39||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||0:04:16|
|40||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)||0:04:40|
|41||Camilla Mollebro (Denmark)||0:04:50|
|42||Ingrid Drexel (Mexico)||0:05:24|
|43||Serika Guluma Ortiz (Colombia)||0:05:53|
|44||Jeanne Girubuntu (Rwanda)||0:07:12|