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New Zealand cyclist Linda Villumsen led home the peloton for seventh place to compete her most successful road world championships.
The outstanding 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.
She was patient in the peloton today as several breaks tried to push clear until a select group of six riders managed to snap the cover with two laps remaining.
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.
The remaining three New Zealanders – Emily Collins, Kate Chilcott and Emma Crum – were among half the 160-strong field that failed to finish.
The race was broken up with a massive crash on the third of eight laps in the 129km race, which took down a large number of riders including Chilcott, Collins and Villumsen. Chilcott was taken to hospital with a suspected broken wrist, while the others continued unhurt.
Collins was shaken and lost contact with the peloton following the crash, gradually falling behind on the challenging circuit.
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.