20 Sep 2017

Villumsen makes strong return

7:41 am on 20 September 2017

The New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen has finished sixth in the individual tme trial at the World Road Chamionships in Norway.

Villumsen, the 2015 champion, finished 56 seconds behind the winner Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands.

Van Vleuten claimed an emotional win, beating fellow Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen to the gold medal.

Linda Villumsen competing in Norway.

Linda Villumsen competing in Norway. Photo: Robert Jones

Little more than a year after a accident in the Rio Olympics road race left her with three spinal fractures, the 34-year-old powered round the hilly 21.1km course in Bergen to win by a comfortable margin.

Despite rain making the course slippery, she averaged 43.8km/h for a time of 28 minutes 50.35 seconds.

Van der Breggen, whose road race gold in Rio was overshadowed by the injuries sustained by her teammate who had been leading when she slammed into a deep gutter on a descent, was 12 seconds slower.

Australian Katrin Garfoot was third, 18.93 seconds behind. She also finished third in the event last year.

Last year's champion Amber Neben of the United States could only manage 11th, while Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk, who was second last year in Doha, was fifth.

Only five riders got within a minute of van Vleuten's time.

"I can't believe it," a tearful Van Vleuten said. "To be world champion in the TT, I never thought it would be, but this year I've started to believe."

Despite her time out from the sport Villumsen felt "a little bit disappointed in myself today."

"But I am looking forward to going back home and training again and getting back into that rhythm. I will have a little break and then really look forward to training again and see if I can make it for the Commies (Commonwealth Games),"said the Glasgow Games time trial gold medallist.

Her busy week will be completed at the weekend in the 153km road race with fellow Rio Olympian Georgia Williams, who rides for Orica Scott World Tour team.

"The road race is even hard and I've heard about the big climb. I have really tried to focus just on one race at a time. I don't know what is actually coming apart from a tough race," said Villumsen.

"Worlds is always a different race. It is not so much about who can get away rather who can stay to the end. It will be good to see if Georgia and myself can make it through to that last selection of riders."