Route de France: Linda Villumsen captures the race with solo stage seven break
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Route de France: Linda Villumsen captures the race with solo stage seven break

by Ben Atkins at 3:49 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
New Zealander completes Wiggle Honda’s dominance with six minute margin of victory

linda villumsenLinda Villumsen completed Wiggle Honda’s almost complete domination of the 2013 Route de France, with a devastating solo victory in the seventh and final stage, between Cusset and Chauffailles, and seizing her second overall victory in the race. With teammate Giorgia Bronzini having taken the previous six stages, Villumsen finally managed to break clear of the peloton and take back the single second that she had conceded to Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) in the prologue.

Responding to an attack from 2012 Route de France winner Evie Stevens (United States) on the penultimate climb of the day, Villumsen pulled away on the descent and continued alone to the finish.

British champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) took the sprint for second place, an incredible 5’53” behind Villumsen, with 2009 World champion Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana) third.

“It was really hard before that as well,” Villumsen explained, referring to the point where Stevens and herself had escaped. “We had a few climbs, but that was the steepest one of the day, and when [Stevens] initially attacked I didn’t think I could do that speed. But I looked around and all the others were a bit tired, so I tried to bridge to her and it worked out. Then I just took the downhill at my own speed, and I was alone at the bottom of it.”

Finding herself alone with almost 40km still to ride, the New Zealand time trial champion - and multiple Worlds medallist - kept going and put her skill against the clock to good use.

“What else do you do when you have a minute?” she laughed.

“I wasn’t sure what was happening behind because the climb was really hard and I knew it would have been split a bit, but when groups are coming back together you never know if someone’s going to put up a chase or not,” Villumsen explained. “It kept going uphill and I kept thinking that maybe I wasn’t fast enough, but then the time gaps kept coming and it was quicker and quicker, so that was good.

“You’re never really sure, because you never know what could happen - a puncture or something like that - but when I had some minutes and about 10km to go, and it was mainly downhill, I was like ‘okay this is it.’

The first half of the 130.2km stage saw the usual unsuccessful attacks, including moves from Be Pink riders Dalia Muccioli and Alice Algisi, with Italian champion Muccioli eventually awarded the combativity prize for the stage. It wasn’t until the race hit the final 50km, and the climb to the Col de Dun, that Stevens managed to tear herself clear. Villumsen managed to jump across to the American before she could reach the top, and the two of them took the summit together.

On the descent Villumsen left Stevens behind, as Stevens was picked up by the chase group of Johansson, Armitstead, Guderzo and Tatiana Antoshina (both MCipollini-Giordana) and Be Pink duo Noemi Cantele and Alena Amialyusik. Despite the power of those in the group behind her, however, Villumsen’s lead continued to grow as she passed through the finish line for the first time with 31.5km to go.

Over the Col de la Cépée, and the descent that followed, Villumsen pulled further away from the chase group, which was growing with the addition of Grace Sulzberger (Australia) and Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne-Futuroscope).

By the time Armitstead had taken the sprint for second place, Villumsen had taken 5’53” out of her chasers, and seized the gold jersey from Johansson. This was the Danish-born New Zealander’s second overall victory in the Route de France, having taken the 2006 edition.

“Every victory is different I guess,” she said. “This one here we had success all week. We had a really good team here. We’ve been happy working for Giorgia most days, and I had Mayuko Hagiwara, Beatrice Bartelloni and Lauren Kitchen helping me out on other days, and it’s worked out really well.

“I felt bad for not winning the prologue,” Villumsen added. “I had the whole team in the car behind me, yelling the whole way. It was really cool, but then I just missed out. But now it’s all made up for it, to have the victory today.”

Result stage 7
1. Linda Villumsen (NZl) Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
2. Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans @ 5’53”
3. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giordana
4. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
5. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Vienne-Futuroscope
6. Alena Amialyusik (Blr) Be Pink
7. Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) MCipollini-Giordana
8. Grace Sulzberger (Aus) Australian National Team
9. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team
10. Noemi Cantele (Ita) Be Pink

Final overall standings
1. Linda Villumsen (NZl) Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS @ 5’52”
3. Evelyn Stevens (USA) United States National Team @ 5’57”
4. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) MCipollini-Giordana @ 6’00
5. Alena Amialyusik (Blr) Be Pink @ 6’06”
6. Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans @ 6’07”
7. Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/Giant @ 6’09”
8. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabobank-Liv/Giant @ 6’12”
9. Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) MCipollini-Giordana
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Orica-AIS

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