A year ago, Linda Villumsen was the toast of New Zealand women's cycling after finally nabbing the world individual time trial.

It had been a while coming. Danish-born Villumsen had been knocking on the title door for years.

From 2008 to 2014, Villumsen placed 10th, third, third, second, third, second and ninth in world time trials. She finally cracked the top of the podium in Richmond, Virginia last year.

Now she'll start tomorrow's Olympic trial with serious medal ambitions. She was 23rd in the road race yesterday, in effectively a training ride to prepare for her premier event.


Villumsen was fourth at London four years ago, missing a medal by less than two seconds, when beaten by Russian Olga Zabelinskaya, who has subsequently been banned for doping, and won the Commonwealth Games title in Glasgow two years ago.

Her world title is "definitely a confidence boost. On the other hand, it might add to the pressure. I might be the one that the others will be thinking can go away and win this".

She has talked to coach Mark Elliott about who she's riding for in Rio.

"When she gets on the bike, a couple of times she's said I am riding for me, but I am riding for the people who got me to where I am so that gives a lot of strength to her," Elliott said.

Villumsen's hopes of putting a cat among the pigeons in the women's road race yesterday did not come to fruition with the time trial specialist finished 23rd.

The 31-year-old was 5 minutes 0.7 second behind Dutch winner Anna van der Breggen who outsprinted Swede Emma Johansson and Italy's Elisa Longo Borghini at the end of the tough 137km course.

Holland's Annemiek van Vleuten led with less than 11km to go but crashed dramatically on the descent which had ended men's road race leader Vincenzo Nibali's chances 24 hours earlier.

That allowed Mara Abbott, of the United States, to take the lead, and she had an advantage of almost 40 seconds as the descent flattened out, but was caught in the final 150m and denied a medal. Van der Breggen won gold, Johansson silver and Longo Borghini bronze.

Villumsen, who said before the race she would take a chance if it presented itself, failed to go with the quintet when they made their move 17km from the finish.