Route de France 2013
Stage 7 -Villumsen solo win to snatch overall
Cusset - Chauffailles, 130.2 km
Villumsen (Wiggle Honda) rode solo to the finish of stage 7, in doing so
she secured the stage win and snatched the overall victory away from Emma
Johansson (Orica-AIS). In the chase for second, Lizzie
Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), won our group sprint for second on the stage.
Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana) rounded out the podium, and
Johansson was fourth on the stage.Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda) started
the stage in second overall, 1” behind Johansson. The Danish-born Kiwi
time trialed away from the field to take both the stage win and the
overall classification. Her victory capped off a successful week for the
British-registered squad, which saw Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) win
six straight sprints, giving the team seven victories over eight stages.
The final stage was always going to the the stage that determined the overall. With no bonus seconds on any of the stages and finishes mostly controled for bunch sprints, it was inevitable that the last stage with hilly parcours proved as decisive as predicted. The first hour of the race was quite quiet. It seems all the team were waiting for the climb. There was one major climb at 30km that caused some distruption to the peloton. It wasn't until the climb at 53km that caused major challenges for the overall leader. Due to mechanical issues, Johansson lost three of her stringest support.Gracie Elvin and Tiffany Cromwell had issues and Melissa Hoskins dropped back to support them. It was at this time the attacks started at the front of the peloton. Johansson was forced to cover as much as she could.The racing was aggressive and the peloton was split into smaller and smaller groups. With another steep climb, the front of the peloton was active and attacks were constant at the front.
Evie Stevens (USA) knew she needed to ride hard if she was going to be in with a chance. Stevens attacked and managed to gain a smaill gap. Villumsen (Wiggle Honda) was the next to attack. Villumsen caught Stevens on the steepest climb of the day, the Col de Dun and the pair rode over the top of the hill together. Villumsen attacked Stevens and the gaps were growing to the chasing group. Villumsen had 1 minute 30 with 25km to go. When Villumsen arrived for the final 15km lap, the gap had grown to 5 minutes 20 seconds.
Linda Villumsen (Wigge Honda) was happy with her 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."
“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.
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.’
as I don’t crash!” she joked.
Johansson (Orica-AIS) was disappointed with not winning overall
but happy with how the team had performed, “Obviously it would
have been nice to bring home the win after the team worked hard to defend
the race all week. I’m disappointed, but I think about the last seven
days and the last couple months and I know it’s been a good streak. I
was in yellow (orange) all week. We won the prologue and came away with
lots of podiums. It’s been a successful week overall although maybe not
quite as good of week as what Wiggle had. There are a lot of other teams
that didn’t come out of this race with anything, so I think we can proud
of what we’ve done,” said Johansson
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