Star kiwi cyclist Linda Villumsen and young hope James Oram created an historic double medal winning day for New Zealand at the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen today.
Both won silver medals in the elite women and junior men time trials respectively, the first time BikeNZ has won two medals at the same World Championships.
The same three elite women shared the medals in the time trial today as at Melbourne last year but on a vastly different course with Geelong’s hills compared with flat, windy and wet conditions at Copenhagen.
It proved an emotional day for Villumsen, the Danish-born New Zealander who was thrilled to win her third medal in a row in the time trial after bronze medals for Denmark in 2009 and in her first ride for New Zealand last year.
“It will be the same three of us in the medals next year but it will be my turn for the gold,” Villumsen said.
“It was special for me today for sure. I had my family and friends here supporting me too. I told my brother to go in the hardest part of the course and yell for me. It was good support for me from everybody.”
She found the conditions more trying than anticipated but it did not change her approach.
“The first lap in the wet was a little bit tricky because you never know how fast you can take the corners but the second lap was okay because you knew and none of them were dangerous.
“It was harder than I thought it would be. That was to my advantage. It was a strong head wind which was pretty bad, it seemed like a climb.
“I didn’t change my tactics though. I always ride the same not really with tactics but to ride as fast as I can and see how long I can last for.
“After the first lap people were cheering a lot more and so you knew they had been told of my time but apart from that it was not easy to understand how the others were doing behind me.”
Villumsen, who rides for the Dutch AA Drink professional team, hit the lead in the competition as the eighth to last rider off on the technical two lap 27.8km time trial, clocking 37:29.11 to eclipse Canada’s former Olympic speed skater Clara Hughes.
Her time lasted until the penultimate ride from 2004 world champion Judith Arndt from Germany who blitzed the second lap after being only the eighth fastest at the first time split half way around the first lap.
Pooley had to settle for third ahead of Canadians Tara Whitten, the two-time world omnium champion on the track, and Hughes.
Villumsen has four days break before she competes in the road race as the sole New Zealand representative.
Earlier the 18 year old Oram surprised himself with his medal winning performance in the junior men’s race over the same 27.8km course.
Oram, for the former Westlake Boys rider, was off as the 10th rider in a 55-strong field, producing a stunning effort to clock 35:07.68 to claim the lead.
He had to wait nervously for two hours before his time was beaten.
“It was pretty nerve wracking that was for sure. I really needed to go to the toilet but they held me there as the leader.
“I came in here thinking that a top-10 performance would be great. And if I was lucky then top-five would be an absolute dream. So to get a silver medal is pretty crazy. It’s not really sunk in yet.”
Oram said he did not have any pre-conceived tactics.
“I generally just ride as strongly and as hard as I can. It was quite technical and was a bit windy but the rain did not come while we rode.”
It took a huge effort from hometown Dane Mads Wurtz Schmidt to edged out Oram by just four seconds to win the gold.
Oram, who has competed for the Pure Black Racing Development team this year, won the best young rider classification at the Tour de L’Abitibi in Canada racing for BikeNZ.
Buoyed by his performance today, Oram believes the young New Zealand team can do well in the road race in three days time.
“We have all ridden together a lot for New Zealand and we all know each other well. I think we can do really well here.”
Tomorrow is the elite men’s road race with world track pursuit silver medallist Jesse Sergent and 2009 national road champion Jack Bauer in action for New Zealand in a 65-strong field headed by four time world and Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara. The stellar field includes top time triallists including Tony Martin (GER), David Millar and Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins (both GBR), American star prospect Taylor Phinney and current world pursuit champion Jack Bobridge (AUS).
Elite women time trial, 27.8km: Judith Arndt (GER) 37:07.38, 1; Linda Villumsen (NZL) 37:29.11, 2; Emma Pooley (GBR) 37:31.51, 3; Tara Whitten (CAN) 37:33.54, 4; Clara Hughes (CAN) 37:44.17, 5.
Junior men time trial, 27.8km: Mads Wurtz Schmidt (DEN) 35:07.68, 1; James Oram (NZL) 35:11.79, 2; David Edwards (AUS) 35:28.47, 3; Markus Faglum-Karlsson (SWE) 35:40.59, 4; Juriy Vasyliv (GER) 35:46.69, 5.