Former world road race champion Judith Arndt defied the wet conditions to claim her maiden time trial gold at the world road championships on Tuesday. Arndt sped over a rain-affected and technical 27.8km course to clock a winning time of 37:07.38, pushing Danish-born New Zealander Linda Villumsen down to second place. Villumsen timed 37:29.11 to take the silver medal while Britain’s defending champion Emma Pooley took the bronze in 37:31.51.
Arndt, who won the road race gold in 2004, has been attempting to win the world time trial for years and came close to her goal last year when she finished second behind Pooley on a far more difficult course in Australia.
“In 1997 I won my first worlds medal in the time trial, and I’ve been chasing the gold ever since,” said Arndt. “I can’t say how much it means to me to win this, but I was quite dizzy when I came over the finish line and saw my time.”
In 2010, it was the same three riders on the podium, with Villumsen finishing in third place. Pooley, a climbing specialist, came into the race playing down her medal hopes because of the flat and technical profile of the course in the Danish capital. However the Swiss-based professional put in an impressive display, coming over the halfway line in provisional second place and going on to challenge for a medal on the second of the two circuits.
“I’m quite pleased, I was hoping for a place in the top ten so it’s great to get on the podium,” said Pooley, whose hopes of a medal at the London Olympics were given a boost. “I’m pleased, because the London course is not hilly, so this gives me a positive boost.”
A four-time Danish champion who finished in the top ten of the Olymic road race in 2008 for her native country, Villumsen swapped allegiances to ride for New Zealand in 2010. Asked who she felt she had won the medal for, she replied: “I would say it’s 50-50. I have a lot of friends and family here who have come to see me race.
“It (Denmark) is still my roots, it will always be here,” she added, touching her heart. Villumsen admitted however she is still coming to terms with the rules of the country’s national sport. “I do have an All Blacks shirt, but I don’t really watch rugby because I don’t understand all the rules,” she told AFP. “I prefer to watch netball.”
Canada’s women meanwhile were among the most disappointed on the day. In drier conditions former Olympic speed skater Clara Hughes, the national time trial champion, had topped the provisional podium when she set an early benchmark of 37:44. She held the lead for most of the race until being pushed into second by compatriot Tara Whitten. In the end, Whitten missed out on the bronze by 2.3-seconds, with Hughes finishing fifth a further 10-seconds off the pace.