New Zealand’s leading woman road cyclist, Linda Villumsen, will ride for Australian professional team, GreenEdge-AIS, in the NZCT women’s tour of New Zealand in the Manawatu from February 22 to 26.
Villumsen, a silver or bronze medallist in the individual time trial at the last three world road championships, is a member of Australia’s first top level professional team, whose women’s squad also includes world time trial champion and last year’s NZCT tour victor, Judith Arndt, of Germany. GreenEdge was launched last year by Australian businessman, Andrew Ryan, who has committed $60 million to it over three years. Its men’s squad includes New Zealand veteran Julian Dean.
Villumsen has only become a New Zealand citizen in recent years after developing an international reputation riding for her native Denmark, who she competed for at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She signed for the newly established women’s squad late last year, and GreenEdge made an immediate statement in 2012 with Arndt winning the Tour of Qatar.
Arndt is one of the greats of women’s road cycling. She has been German champion on many occasions across road and track, is a past world individual pursuit and road race champion, and an Olympic medallist in both events. There have also been victories in World Cup rounds and in stages of the women’s tours of France and Italy. She and Villumsen will have three Australians as team-mates, Australian and Oceania road champion Shara Gillow, a past junior world champion Jessie McLean, and Rowena Fry, who is also chasing London Olympic selection as a mountain-biker.
Tour director Jorge Sandoval was delighted to have attracted GreenEdge to his tour after earlier announcing that the Italian national team would be participating.
“The New Zealand Community Trust tour of New Zealand is already looking like being bigger and better than last year, and that’s fantastic for everyone involved,” Sandoval said. “The better we can make it the more international exposure the race and New Zealand will receive.”
This is the ninth edition of the women’s tour, and it is the only international one for women in Oceania. It will be televised nationally and internationally.
Over the five days of racing the women will complete five stages totalling 520 kms over very much the same route as last month’s men’s tour of the Manawatu though some stages will be shorter. Like the men, the women will start with an individual time trial at Massey University on February 22, starting at 6pm.