Cycling: Kiwis notching up successes

New Zealanders preparing for the London Olympics, or still seeking a qualifying performance, have had success across cycling, sailing and athletic pursuits as the countdown to the Games gathers pace.

Cyclists Linda Villumsen and Shane Archbold won events in Spain and Belgium early yesterday.

Time trial specialist Villumsen, a Games certainty but not yet named in the road group, won the third stage of the Emakumeen Euskal Bira event in Spain. The silver medallist in both last year's world champs time trial and at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, Villumsen clocked 18 minutes 21 seconds over the 13.4km course.

She produced a time three seconds faster than her Green Edge-AIS teammate and world champion Judith Arndt.

"It's difficult to make a plan for a time trial," Villumsen said.

"You just go as fast as you can. I don't think about how other people will ride the course. It makes no difference. It only matters how I ride. I go as fast I can from start to finish."

Timaru racer Archbold won a kermesse circuit race in Belgium. He won the bunch sprint at the end of the 118km circuit in Herselt, northern Belgium.

Archbold will contest the six-discipline omnium event in London. His Olympic teammate, Aaron Gate of Auckland, was third.

Sailors Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie defended their women's 470 class title at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta at the Olympic venue in Weymouth, Dorset, yesterday.

The pair finished third in the medal race, which was enough to keep them at the head of the fleet. They won three races during the regatta and finished 20 points clear of American and British crews.

Paul Snow Hansen and Jason Saunders completed their regatta with a fourth placing in the medal race, enough to retain their third placing and collect the bronze. They finished 20 points behind winners Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page of Australia.

Other top 10 placings were recorded by Laser sailors Andy Maloney (7th), Andrew Murdoch (9th) and RS:X sailor John-Paul Tobin (9th).

New Zealand finished fourth overall, with six crews ending in the top 10.

However, there was disappointment for open water swimmers Cara Baker and Charlotte Webby in Portugal yesterday.

Needing to finish inside the top nine of the Olympic marathon qualifier to get an automatic spot in the London field, Baker missed out by two seconds, clocking 1h 45m 6s.

Queensland-based Baker was well placed in the chase pack on the tidal Sado River for the first five laps of the 10km race, but finished 17th at the wrong end of a photo-finish - and not helped by reaching for the touch pad with her wrong hand - being pipped by two other swimmers.

Countries are allowed one swimmer in the event at the Games, and once the numbers were crunched, Japan's Yumi Kida took 13th overall to earn that final place at the head of the photo-finish group.

"It's hugely disappointing for Cara," Philip Rush, Swimming New Zealand's open water manager, said.

Taranaki swimmer Webby finished 29th in 1h 49m 42s.

There are a further five continental places available to complete the field for London, with Baker the leading finisher from the Oceania region.

"There are no other swimmers to get to the final qualifier from the Oceania region other than Cara and Charlotte," Rush said.

"We will prepare a case [for] our selectors to take up with the NZOC because the spot won't be filled otherwise. Cara certainly swam well enough to prove she can foot it in the field for London."

American Hayley Anderson won the race in 1h 44m 30s from Hungarians Eva Risztov and Anna Olasz.

Defending Olympic and world champion Valerie Adams won the shot put at the Diamond League meeting in New York yesterday.

Adams hit 20.60m in the third round. It bettered her own meeting record, set two years ago, by 67cm.

Olympic hopefuls Zane Robertson and Hamish Carson came up short of their target in the 1500m, Robertson finishing 10th in 3m 38.80s, and Carson 3m 42.08s. The Olympic qualifying standard is 3m 35s. American runner Bernard Lagat won in 3m 34.63s.

- Hamilton News

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