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Linda Villumsen Wins Route De France With A Devastating Solo Break

Linda Villumsen completed Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s near-total domination of the 2013 Route de France by seizing the golden jersey on the final day. With teammate Giorgia Bronzini having won the first six stages, the Danish-born New Zealander broke away from the rest of the overall contenders of the race and soloed away to take the seventh.


By the time Villumsen reached the finish of the 130.2km stage, between Cusset and Chauffailles, she was almost six minutes clear of the chasing group that contained overnight race leader Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and 2012 race winner Evie Stevens (United States). British champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) won the sprint for second place, with 2009 World champion Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana) third.

Having bridged across to an attack from Stevens on the steepest climb of the day, the Col de Dun, Villumsen had left the American behind on the descent and continued alone to the finish.

“Finally a different person won!” joked Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope. “We knew that this steep climb was coming, and we knew that Stevens would have a go, and she did. Linda went across to her, and then had a little bit of a dig on the descent, because it was technical. So she dropped her on the descent for 40 seconds, and just kept going.

“The group behind her swelled, but the speed difference between them and Linda was a good couple of kilometres an hour,” he continued. “She was just on it, how she stayed upright on the descents is beyond me!

“She only needed two seconds and she took the best part of six minutes!” Cope explained.

“There were some class acts in that group behind her,” he added. “It’s not like they were all nobodies, they’re all World and Olympic medallists – more or less – so you can’t say it was a soft race.”


Having tried to escape the peloton, and take back the one second that she had conceded to Johansson in last Saturday’s prologue, Villumsen finally managed to get clear on the final stage. Once clear, there was no stopping the New Zealand time trial champion.

“It’s been really hard because the courses haven’t been that challenging, really,” Villumsen explained. “Everyone’s been trying for a short while, but it’s been a really fast race and hard to get away for any team. Today it was just that bit harder, and that made the difference.”

Villumsen’s move came on the toughest part of the stage, with the first seriously hard climb of the race so far.

“It was really hard before that as well,” she explained. “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, Villumsen kept going and put her time trialling power 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.’

“So long as I don’t crash!” she joked.

This is Villumsen’s second victory in the Route de France, having taken her first in 2006, but, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling having won every stage bar the prologue, it could hardly be more different this time.

“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.”

Having missed the first half of the season, Villumsen had declared herself a little disappointed with her own performances at the Giro Rosa and the Thüringen-Rundfahrt. After such a devastating victory in the Route de France, however, the 28-year-old is surely coming into her top form at last.

“It’s hard to say isn’t it,” she smiled. “Every race is different. You need a bit of luck, and I think luck was on our side, I don’t think before we could have imagined what we could do this week.”

“It’s good for the team that someone other than Giorgia has won too,” Cope concluded. “We’ve picked up a rack of UCI points this week, so we won’t be far off getting into the top four teams.”

Stage 7 result
1. Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

2. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) @ 5’53”
3. Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana)

Final general classification
1. Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

2. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) @ 5’52”
3. Evie Stevens (United States) @ 5’57”

Photo credit: Laurent Duflot


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