Linda Villumsen medal contender in time trial

MARK GEENTY IN LONDON
Last updated 11:48 01/08/2012
Linda Villumsen
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
MEDAL CHANCE: New Zealand road cyclist Linda Villumsen.

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A road course with a few more twists and turns would be Linda Villumsen's ideal scenario, but her New Zealand handlers still believe an Olympic cycling time trial medal is well within her grasp tonight.

Villumsen and compatriot Jack Bauer completed their final preparations today for the respective women's and men's races against the clock, which starts and finishes at Hampton Court Palace in south-west London and winds through the undulating Surrey countryside (from 11.30pm NZT).

After riding the course, Villumsen pronounced herself fully recovered from Sunday's road race exertions, including a minor crash in the rain which saw her graze an elbow and knee before finishing 18th. A podium finisher in the time trial at the past three world championships, and a form rider in Europe this year, Villumsen remains among the medal contenders, said BikeNZ high performance director, Mark Elliott.

"Linda was just happy to be through what was a very dangerous road race and she's ready to roll," Elliott said.

"She would probably like a tighter course because she's a great technician on the bike. But she's ridden the course a number of times and is in great form, and training exceptionally well. She will be very competitive."

Each rider will set off at 90sec intervals from Hampton Court Palace, with the women riding 29km and the men 44km.

Villumsen's main rivals are the defending champion Kristin Armstrong, of the United States, German Judith Arndt and Canadian Clara Hughes, who, like Armstrong, emerged from retirement for this Olympics.

Armstrong said today: "It's a challenging course. It's a true time trial course. It has a little bit of everything. It has some technicality to it and some rollers going and coming back in. It's windy and the rain may come as well; there are a lot of variables out there."

Meanwhile, Elliott said Bauer would line up in the men's field after riding himself to a standstill in finishing 10th in the road race on Saturday.

"Jack was shattered after the race which may impact on him, but he's made a good recovery," Elliott said.

"He doesn't have any expectations, other than doing as well as he can. He's still a young guy in terms of top cycling experience, and Saturday's effort will be a great boost. He has the capability."

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Bauer has a victory in the team time trial (Garmin Barracuda) at this year's Giro D'Italia to his name.

Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara will defend his time trial title at 90 percent fitness after he crashed heavily into a barrier late in the road race and suffered heavy bruising to his shoulder. Great Britain's riders get a chance to make amends for their road race disappointment, led by Tour de France standouts Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

- Fairfax Media

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