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Villumsen takes Tour de l’Ardèche lead with stage two time trial victory

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Linda Villumsen ended the second day of the 2014 Tour de l’Ardèche in the race leader’s pink jersey, thanks to her victory in the morning’s seven kilometre stage two time trial, between Valvignières and Alba la Romaine. The Commonwealth Champion completed the rolling course in a time of ten minutes, 2.13 seconds, which was ten seconds quicker than Alena Amialiusik (Astana BePink) in second place, with Tayler Wiles (Mixte Internationale) another nine seconds back in third.

“I don’t think anyone ever feels good in a time trial!” Villumsen joked. “But it was a good course for me because it was a little bit up and down the whole time. Not flat, not hilly, but sort of rolling.

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Charlotte Becker finished just 30 seconds behind teammate Villumsen in sixth place. Villumsen’s time trial victory saw her take the pink jersey from Giorgia Bronzini, who held it after her stage one victory.

“It was supposed to be the easiest day today,” Villumsen laughed, “so we’ll see what happens in the next stages, but we had another good day. We’ll see how the girls are feeling in the morning, because they really really did a lot today.”

The afternoon road stage, between the Musée d’Alba la Romaine and Le Teil, saw Bronzini take second place in an untidy bunch sprint after her Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates controlled the peloton over the hilly 76km course. The former two-time road World Champion was just unable to overcome Australian Loren Rowney, as she combined with Specialized-lululemon teammate Tiffany Cromwell in the finishing straight, but managed to get past Cromwell before the line.

“This afternoon it was a hilly stage,” Bronzini explained. “It began with a steep climb, and I was in the front with Linda, trying to set a rhythm so there wouldn’t be any attacks from the other teams. After the second climb the other girls came back to help us – there was one breakaway solo from Astana – and the girls got on the front and we caught the girl before the last climb.

“In the last climb the girls were in the front again to set a rhythm and we managed to stop any attacks. We worked together on the downhill and, with 10km to go, everyone was on the front to make a good speed and stop any attacks.”

“In the last kilometres Emilia [Fahlin] was on the front in a long, long effort, and I was perfectly on Linda’s wheel,” Bronzini continued. “In the final-k Linda tried to lead me out but it was a really, really technical final. Chloe Hosking [Mixte International] attacked and the others followed her, putting Linda into trouble.

“Rowney was pulling the sprint, but Cromwell left a gap to her teammate, so I must start my sprint really early. I tried to catch her but I was too late. It was a different tactic from them to beat me, but that’s the way racing is.”

Despite missing out on the victory, Villumsen finished the day safely in the pink jersey, while Bronzini took the lead in the green jersey points classification.

“The important thing is that we are still in the jersey, and also I have the points jersey, so we are happy,” Bronzini confirmed.

Result Stage 2
1. Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

2. Alena Amialiusik (Astana BePink)
3. Tayler Wiles (Mixte Internationale)

Result Stage 3
1. Loren Rowney (Australia)
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)

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