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Linda Villumsen takes back Tour de l’Ardèche lead

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Linda Villumsen took back the pink jersey in the Tour de l’Ardèche after the fifth stage, between Saint-Sauveur-de-Montagut and Villeneuve-de-Berg, after overnight leader Alena Amialiusik (Be Pink) crashed out on a descent. The Belarusian champion was trying to follow Villumsen’s fierce pace when she crashed on a corner, suffering a fractured collarbone,and was forced to withdraw from the race.


The Danish-born New Zealander now leads Tatiana Antoshina by a single second, after the Russian rider escaped with Canadian Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne-Futuroscope) on the final climb of the day. Kanuel won the stage, ahead of Antoshina, with Joëlle Numainville (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Systems) winning the sprint for third place in the group that contained Villumsen.

“The course today was severe,” explained Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope. “Before they’d even done a kilometre they turned left and went up this road, and for three to four-k they were touching gradients of 15% in places. The course just blew the race to bits straight away. A front group of about 30 went away, and most of the back groups just came together.

“Linda was in the front group, and they were just riding tempo,” Cope continued. “Then after one GPM there was a really technical descent, so Linda went straight to the front and pressed on the pedals like she does, and Amialiusik tried to follow her. She couldn’t stay with her and just overcooked it in the corners, and broke her collarbone and elbow, I think.

“You don’t want to take a jersey that way,” he added, “but you want to expose someone’s weakness to take a lead.”

With the race leader down, the front group was keen to observe race etiquette and not to take advantage of her misfortune, with hostilities only recommencing when it was clear that Amialiusik would not be continuing the race.


“Then the group rode easy for a while, because they thought Amialiusik was coming back – they didn’t know she’d actually hurt herself so much,” Cope explained. “Then, when they realised she wasn’t coming back, Sharon Laws [Lotto-Belisol] attacked on a climb and got a minute and a half; Linda started to ride tempo.

“Getting near to the top of the climb Antoshina and Canuel attacked her and went away,” he continued. “The gap was 30 seconds at the top, and we expected them to come back on the descent, but the gap just grew.

“It went to one minute ten, which meant that Antoshina would take the jersey. It needed to be a minute and, by some stroke of luck, that’s that it ended up as. Linda just gritted her teeth and hung on, and managed to take it by a second.”

Finishing in sixth place in the group behind Numainville, Villumsen has taken back the pink jersey that she had taken in the race’s opening prologue. With one day to go, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders will be determined to help Villumsen secure her second stage race victory of the season.

“Tomorrow will just be about defending that second,” Cope confirmed. “Hopefully the climbs aren’t as tough, so we’ll hopefully be able to do that successfully.”

1. Karol-Ann Canuel (Vienne-Futuroscope)
2. Tatiana Antoshina (Russia)
3. Joëlle Numainville (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Systems)

6. Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

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