After so many near misses, Linda Villumsen finally won a major race when she outclassed the strong women’s road time trial field in Glasgow today.
Villumsen was a silver medallist in the event four years ago in Delhi and was fourth in the London Olympics. At world championships, she has been second twice in the time trial and third three times, so her gold medal was certainly more than deserved.
Her major opponent today was Englishwoman Emma Pooley, who led for the first 24km of the 29.6km course.
However, in the technical section towards the end, Villumsen had the skill and speed to come from eight seconds down to win by six seconds in 42min 25.46s. Australian Katrin Garfoot was third in 43min 13.91s and another New Zealander, Jaime Nielsen, was a further 16 seconds back in an outstanding fourth in her debut in this discipline at international level.
The third New Zealander in the field, Reta Trotman, was 11th of the 31 starters, in 44min 30.12s.
The field raced in reverse order, so Pooley was the second-last rider and Villumsen last.
“I put my best time up there,” Pooley said. “I couldn’t have done more. I knew how good Linda is. But you record a time like that and hope the one rider behind you doesn’t beat it.”
Villumsen prefers not to be aware of times while she is riding, so didn’t know what time Pooley had recorded, or how she was faring by comparison.
“I just want to go out there and do the best time I can. My entire concentration is on that, without worrying about other times,” Villumsen said.
The Aucklander, who was born in Denmark, had contemplated retirement early last year.vThen she decided to redouble her efforts at winning a major title.
“I’ve been so close in the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics, the world champs – it’s so good to finally finish first.”
It was a testing, hilly course around Glasgow, and early rain made parts of the road slippery, but nothing deterred Villumsen, who turned on an awesome display of strength, speed and endurance.
Later Trek Factory Team professional Jesse Sergent was fifth in the men’s 40kmtime trial.
He started very strongly to leader after the first time check at 6.5kms but gradually England’s Alex Dowsett, Welshman Geraint Thomas and Australian Rohan Dennis pushed through on the windy and lumpy circuit.
Sergent finished 48:33.73 with Dowsett, the Delhi silver medallist, winning gold in 47:41.78. Dennis, a double Olympic gold medallist, edged out Beijing gold medallist Thomas for the silver by just four seconds.
“I may have gone out too hard but the numbers look good on my power metre,” Sergent said. “I had prepared well. I had my coach over with me for two weeks and was pleased with my form.
“It was very windy and the roads were quite heavy. I gave it my best shot though and now I can turn my attentions to the road race and to support Jack Bauer.”
CAPTION: A victorious Linda Villumsen during the medal ceremony. Credit: Guy Swarbrick.