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New Zealand cyclists Cath Cheatley and Linda Villumsen had confidence boosting performances in the women’s road race at the UCI World Championships in Geelong today.
The pair were in the lead bunch that caught a key break just before the finish if the 128km circuit race, with Cheatley finishing 11th and Villumsen 19th in the sprint.
Both believe the race has set them up well for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Earlier American Katheryn Curi Mattis had a healthy break nearing three minutes before she was pulled back with a lap to go. Time Trial silver medallist Judith Arndt champion and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke broke in what looked like a winning advantage on the last lap. But a select small peloton worked hard to haul them in just 150m from the finish, to set up a sprinters’ finish, won by Italian Giorgia Bronzini. Cheatley and Villumsen finished just behind the sprinters in the tough race with two climbs on each of eight laps.
“That was bloody hard. I knew it would come down to a waiting game and a battle of attrition out there,” Cheatley said. “I am pretty stoked with that performance. I have had the flu all week and was unsure how I would handle it.
“But I did really well over the climbs. Once we caught the two leaders Linda and I knew we could not match the power of the pure sprinters but we both gave it everything to hang in there.”
Cheatley said it was motivating to get so much support on the sidelines.
“The support from Kiwis here was fantastic. I can tell you that it got me up a couple of those climbs when I had to dig deep.”
Cheatley said both she and Villumsen would be better for today’s race, which sets them up well for the Commonwealth Games road race.
“That is a flat course, a really big criterium which is the sort of course that I race on most of the year and can do well on. I am looking forward to it and Linda is racing really well also right now.”
Cheatley’s 11th placing followed her 10th last year.
“I guess it proved that my 10th place last year was no fluke. May be I do belong on the hilly courses after all.”
The pair head to Delhi on Monday to join the rest of the team while the attention turns to the elite men’s race tomorrow which starts with an 80km transition from the start in central Melbourne before 11 laps of the same hilly circuit in Geelong.
Women’s road race, 128km: Giorgia Bronzini (ITA) 3:32.01, 1; Marianne Vos (NED) same time, 2; Emma Johansson (SWE) same time, 3. New Zealanders: Cath Cheatley at 3 secs, 11; Linda Villumsen at 3 sec, 19; Serena Sheridan at 11:54, 62; Toni Bradshaw same time, 70; Emma Crum and Courteney Lowe dnf.