New Zealander Linda Villumsen has joined the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team for 2013 after she initially left the Orica-AIS team at the end of last year for a season away from the professional peloton.
I feel like this time spent without racing has been good for me in many ways.
Villumsen, who won medals at the last four time trial world championships, missed out on the London Olympic time trial bronze medal by just over a second. This disappointment, as well as the toll of life on the road, saw the Danish-born 27 year old originally opt to spend a year based in New Zealand.
“I had a very good 2012 season, but after the four-year Olympic cycle I just felt I needed to put my energies into a few other projects before returning to the pro women's cycling,” Villumsen explained.
“In the meantime I have been keeping up with training, however,” she continued.
“Marco Pinotti [of WorldTour team BMC Racing], who coaches me, has done a great effort making an alternative race free training program and I just can't wait to join the Wiggle Honda team later on this year. Hopefully the transition back in the peloton will go smoothly but I am really confident in this team and that both riders and staff have build up a very good team environment for me to join in a few months.”
Villumsen has chosen Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling for her racing return because of the mix of riders in the team.
“The team has a good balance of experienced riders - with Rochelle Gilmore who is Commonwealth Games Champion and Giorgia Bronzini, a double road race world champion - as well as a lot of young talent and and young stars from the track,” Villumsen explained.
“I really believe it is a real good combination of riders, and results already give me an indication that the riders are riding well."
Villumsen will join Kiwi compatriot Emily Collins on the team, with Collins recently securing the team's first win at Omloop van Het Hageland.
In addition to her world championship medals, Villumsen’s time trialling and climbing abilities have brought her several prestigious results, with third in la Flèche Wallonne, and overall victory in the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige-Südtirol as some of her standout performances of 2012.
Villumsen has also managed to win the overall titles at the Route de France in 2006, and the Thüringen Rundfahrt in 2009.
Although she was not part of a team at the beginning of 2013, Villumsen took the first New Zealand National Time Trial title of her career, in Christchurch, in early January.
“I feel like this time spent without racing has been good for me in many ways,” Villumsen explained.
“One being that I’m eager to get back to speed and back to racing again. I’m just really looking forward to racing again and I hope I can use this new energy and enthusiasm to convert into positive and good riding.”