Evie Stevens wraps up tight Tour of New Zealand as Linda Villumsen solos to final stage
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Evie Stevens wraps up tight Tour of New Zealand as Linda Villumsen solos to final stage

by Ben Atkins at 5:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Day of breakaways sees local former-Danish rider escape alone; time bonus for Shara Gillow makes overall as close as possible

evelyn stevensLinda Villumsen (GreenEDGE-AIS) took yet another victory for the new Australian team, as she soloed to a lone victory in the final stage of the Women’s Tour of New Zealand. The Danish-born New Zealander bridged across to a breakaway group, midway through the 119km rolling Palmerston North circuit, before launching a solo move that she managed to maintain all the way to the finish.

Villumsen crossed the line 1’55” clear of a mass bunch sprint, which was taken by former two-time Italian champion Monia Baccaille (Italy), ahead of the overall classification battle between Shara Gillow (GreenEDGE-AIS) and Evelyn Stevens (United States).

After a number of early skirmishes, a four-rider group escaped in the first few kilometres, made up of stage three winner Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE-AIS), former race leader Kristin Armstrong (United States), Rachel Neylan (Armstrong Motor Group), and Italian pair Baccaille and Elena Berlato. Berlato soon dropped back, but the other four began to open up a huge lead over the peloton.

With the World and Olympic time trial champions in the move, it looked as though a repeat of the previous day was on the cards, when the breakaway took several minutes. Armstrong had 6’37” to take back on United States teammate Stevens, with Arndt needing 6’48”, but it began to look possible.

With the gap up to more than three minutes at around 35km, Villumsen attacked the peloton, along with Carla Ryan (Jayco-AIS) and Yan Dong Huand (China Chongming Island Giant). They closed in on the leading group, and were soon followed by former World champion Tatiana Guderzo (Italy), Joanne Hogan (VIS Women), Sequoia Cooper (New Zealand) and Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan).

The groups began to come together but the peloton was closing and, as Stevens began to look isolated by the attacks from GreenEDGE-AIS riders, Armstrong was pulled out of the break to support her.

As the break began to slow, Villumsen made her move, she immediately got a gap and the rest of the group was reeled in by the peloton. She was chased by Guderzo, but the Italian was caught as she approached the second big climb of the stage; at which point the peloton sat up.

Villumsen managed to sustain her attack, with her lead growing to more than three minutes, and she rode on to finish alone; taking a rare solo victory for one of the sport’s big team players.

Starting the day five seconds behind Stevens, Gillow needed to take second place on the stage, and the six bonus seconds that went with it, to secure overall victory. The Australian managed to outsprint the American, but was foiled by the speed of Baccaille and had to settle for third.

The four-second bonus meant that Gillow closed to within a second of Stevens, but the US rider - who normally rides for Specialized-lululemon - secured the overall victory.

Result stage 5
1. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEDGE-AIS
2. Monia Baccaille (Ita) Italian National Team @ 1’55”
3. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS
4. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team
5. Loren Rowney (Aus) VIS Women Team
6. Emily Collins (NZl) New Zealand National Team
7. Liu Xin (Chn) China Chongming Island Giant Pro Cycling
8. Rebecca Wiasak (Aus) Suzuki Team
9. Taryn Heather (Aus) Team Jayco-AIS
10. Joanne Hogan (Aus) VIS Women Team

Final overall standings
1. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team
2. Shara Gillow (Aus) GreenEDGE-AIS @ 1s
3. Taryn Heather (Aus) Team Jayco-AIS @ 13s
4. Joanne Hogan (Aus) VIS Women Team @ 22s
5. Reta Trotman (NZl) New Zealand National Team @ 27s
6. Miranda Griffiths (Aus) Armstrong Motor Group Team @ 2’58”
7. Linda Villumsen (NZl) GreenEDGE-AIS @ 5’34”
8. Kristin Armstrong (USA) United States National Team @ 6’37”
9. Judith Arndt (Ger) GreenEDGE-AIS @ 6’48”
10. Emma Crum (NZl) Cyclosport NZ @ 7’09”

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