New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen led home the peloton for seventh place in the Netherlands today to compete her most successful road world championships.
The 27-year-old had the kudos of beating off a strong peloton up the Cauberg Hill climb to claim seventh place, her best result at a world championships road race.
It capped off an impressive week for Villumsen who won a silver medal in the team time trial with her Orica-AIS professional team and a bronze medal in the individual time trial, her fourth straight podium in this event.
The race was broken up with a massive crash on the third of eight laps in the 129km race in the Limburg region, which took down a large number of riders including the kiwis Kate Chilcott, Emily Collins and Villumsen, while Emma Crum suffered a freak accident in the first lap.
Chilcott (Auckland) was the hardest hit, taken to hospital with a suspected broken wrist. While her arm was put in plaster, x-rays could not find a fracture, and she will have a further scan once the swelling has gone down to determine the extent of the injury.
"The race just splintered up after the crash. Linda showed her patience and experience to ride back on to the peloton and after a few laps it reformed back together.
"Emily was really unlucky. We got her back into the race but a long way down. With the restrictions around riders returning to the race, we tried hard to get her reconnected. She got inside a minute at one stage but at that time the Americans decided to lift the pace at the front and she did not quite make it. She fell back and withdrew later."
Emma Crum also suffered ill-fortune on the opening lap when a rider crashed into her from behind without warning.
"It popped her quick release on the front wheel and caused some damage. We were well back in the line of support cars and it took a long time to get to her. With the narrow roads here, when we stopped it meant all the cars behind had to stop too. So when Emma got going she had no support cars to key off to work her way back on.
"She tried but really had lost too much ground by then and ended up out of the race."
Dutch superstar Marianne Vos proved too strong on the final thrust up Cauberg Hill to claim the world championship on home turf, breaking a run of five straight silver medals.
It gives her a remarkable treble in 2012 with the cyclocross world title and the London Olympic gold medal.
She cleared out on the hill to win by 10 seconds from Australian Rachel Neylan with promising Italian Elisa Longo Borghini 18 seconds back in third.
Villumsen led out the bunch sprint over the top of the climb with an impressive kick to head off a raft of topliners although the peloton had lost four minutes to the leaders over the final two laps.
"Linda was outstanding really. She said she felt really good today but was not confident she could go when the break came. We really never saw or heard from her over race radio until she popped up at the end.
"It was an excellent result and a top week for her."
Earlier kiwis Josh Atkins and James Oram finished in the mass peloton in a frantic men's under-23 race over 177kms, with Tom Scully three minutes back after a brave attack on the penultimate lap.
A trio including 2011 omnium world champion Michael Freiberg broke clear early, moving out to a seven-minute lead at lap four before finally being caught on lap seven of 11 on the arduous Valkenburg circuit.
Once together the final four laps were punctuated with numerous attacks with the Australians prominent.
Scully, the Garmin-sharp stagiaire, took it to the bunch to push up to the front on the penultimate climb but his aggressive move, like several others, came to naught.
Kazakh rider Alexey Lutsenko was the most patient, timing his move once over the hill, to take the mass sprint finish from Frenchman Bryan Coquard.
Atkins, the Tour of Southland champion, was locked in the mass peloton sprint along with his Bontrager Livestrong teammate James Oram.
The championships conclude with the men's elite road race over 261kms tomorrow.
Elite women, 145km: Marianne Vos (NED) 3:14.29, 1; Rachel Neylan (AUS) 3:14.39, 2; Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) 3:14:47, 3. Also New Zealanders: Linda Villumsen 3:19.06, 7; Emily Collins dnf, Emma Crum dnf, Kate Chilcott dnf.
Under-23 men: Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) 4:20.15, 1; Bryan Coquard (FRA) same time, 2; Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL) st, 3. Also New Zealanders: Josh Akins st, 37; James Oram st, 37; Tom Scully at 3:18, 105.
- © Fairfax NZ News