Published Thursday 02 August 2012

New Zealand time trial expert Linda Villumsen missed an Olympic medal by the cruellest of margins today.
Villumsen finished fourth in the 29km women’s individual time trial at Hampton Court Palace, missing the bronze by less than two seconds.
It seemed for most of the competition as if Villumsen would be among the medals, but in the final wash-up, she just missed.
American Kristin Armstrong won with 37min 34.82s from German Judith Arndt (37min 50.29s) and Russian Olga Zabelinskaya (37min 57.35s).
Villumsen, who has been a time trial medallist at the last three world championships, was timed at 37min 59.18s.
The first four finished well ahead of the rest of the 24-strong field.
Though Armstrong was clearly superior, and the favoured Arndt was always going to be tough, Villumsen seemed as if she might be good enough at least for a bronze. She was second quickest at the first 9.1km split and was still second quickest after the second split, at 20.4km.
However, when the course got wider near the end, the power riders came through and Villumsen was edged out by the Russian’s stronger finish.
Zabelinskaya is a quality rider, but has hardly been seen in international competition all year, so her performance today was a surprise.
Villumsen, formerly of Denmark, was understandably devastated afterwards. She said it was even more disappointing to learn she had missed a medal by such a tiny margin.
“I was happy with how I rode and gave it 100 per cent,” she said. “But I wish I’d gone a couple of seconds faster.”
Only minutes after the race, Villumsen was looking ahead to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She will be 31 then, about the peak age for a road rider. “I’ll be going for gold there,” she said.
In the men’s 44km time trial, New Zealander Jack Bauer finished a creditable 19th among the 37 starters.
The race was won by local favourite Bradley Wiggins, who last week was a clear winner of the Tour de France.
Wiggins’ winning time was 50min 39.54s. Bauer finished in 54min 54.16s.
About 15km into his ride Bauer narrowly avoided coming off his bike when he took a sharp turn too fast. He was more cautious after that, perhaps to the point when he lost a little of his momentum.