Villumsen leaves Orica-AIS to base herself in New Zealand

Suggestions that Danish-born Kiwi Linda Villumsen has retired at 27 were premature with the four-time world championship medalist revealing she has merely withdrawn from Orica-AIS for next season to base herself more permanently in New Zealand.

Villumsen is targeting the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Olympic Games two years later in Rio de Janiero and will use a New Zealand base to do it.

"I am still very passionate about cycling and the Orica-AIS team has been excellent," Villumsen said. "But the show must go on, and with or without me in the team they will be great. I will follow how everyone gets on in Europe while I will stay focused on reaching my own goals.

"I took on the nick name 'Gypsy' through the last season, simply because I have belongings spread around the world and right now I feel it is time to stay settled for a while. Given that 2013 is not a massive season, I believe it is time to experiment with an alternative kind of season."

Villumsen will return to the European racing scene in 2014 to get some UCI points for qualifying for the world championships and Olympics.

"But I think I can be a stronger, better and happier cyclist if I can live in New Zealand," she said. "I still love this sport, and I am very grateful to Orica-AIS who have said they will welcome me back if this does not work out."

BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said he supports Villumsen's plans.

"We completely understand Linda’s position. Equally we have talked through all the ramifications with her of being based in New Zealand," Elliott said.

"Linda has an incredible work ethic and if any cyclist in the world can make this work, it will be her. She has our complete support and confidence. One upside is that cyclists in this country will be able to see more of her out on the roads training and in competition."

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