Olympics-bound Villumsen continues outstanding form

New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen has continued her hot spell of form on the road in Europe, finishing fifth overall in the three-day Festival Luxenbrougeois Du Cyclisme Feminin Elsy Jacobs.

The GreenEdge-AIS rider is now expected to move into the top 20 of the UCI world rankings this week and has also jumped to 14th overall on the World Cup rankings.

The three-time world championship medallist was sixth in the prologue at the Elsy Jacobs, then eighth after initiating the break with a superb attack on the hills on stage two to move to third overall. Her team were unable to respond to the attacks on the final stage as Villumsen settled for a finish in the peloton to finish fifth overall.

This follows a third-place finish in the GP Stad Roselare in Belgium, a UCI 1.1 category race, after the GreenEdge Rider went clear in a three-strong break. Villumsen pushed clear during one of the nine climbs on the tough course in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes.

She was just pipped for second in the sprint finish won by Annemiek Van Vleuten of the Netherlands.

The 27 year old also finished third in the demanding La Fleche Wallonne race earlier this month, which was the fourth round of the UCI World Cup, and a day later was second by only one second behind the winner in Borsele.

Villumsen is delighted with her form, especially after some health issues which forced her to withdraw from the New Zealand road championships in January after continued low iron counts. However, she has returned to her best under the guidance of coach and Italian professional Marco Pinotti and through support from BikeNZ.

"My first goal is to build some strength to be at my best for the Olympics," Villumsen said. "My big ain is to win a medal in London and things are going well right now."

Meanwhile fellow New Zealand Olympic cyclist Jesse Sergent has been selected to ride in his first Grand Tour, part of the strong Radioshack Nissan Trek lineup for three-week Giro D'Italia that starts with a prologue in Denmark on Sunday (NZ time).

- APNZ

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