The New Zealand Herald

Newbie and veteran on same time-trial mission

- Liam Napier

Hamish Bond and Linda Villumsen are New Zealand cyclists at opposite ends of their careers, both seeking similar achievemen­ts at the Commonweal­th Games.

Much has been made of Bond’s switch from the boat to preparing for his Games debut on the bike.

While Bond, a rookie in this area, pedals for a time trial medal here, ultimately this is another major step on what the double rowing gold medallist hopes is the road to the Tokyo Olympics.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s defending time trial champion Villumsen flies under the radar in what may be her last Games.

Villumsen, the former Danish national representa­tive granted New Zealand citizenshi­p in 2009, claimed gold in the Glasgow time trial in 2014.

One day after her 33rd birthday, she will attempt to repeat that success on the Gold Coast before switching focus to the road race where she placed fifth four years ago.

Villumsen will harness all her experience at five previous Games which includes the London and Rio Olympics, but also hinted these may be her last.

“I’m not getting any younger. On my European team the younger girls are getting younger or I’m getting really old,” Villumsen said with a wry smile. “It is getting harder on the body — it’s a lot of training.”

Asked about her prospects of competing in Tokyo, 2020, Villumsen hinted two more years could be a stretch.

“Never say never . . . we’ll see how it goes tomorrow and in the road race. Certain aspects of cycling I love and certain sides of it I’m getting a bit too old for.”

If this is to be the last time she clips in for a Games it will only enhance Villumsen’s desire to vastly improve her sixth placing in Rio.

“It would mean the world to me to be able to reach the top again. I feel like this time around there are a few girls on the same level.”

The past four years have been a mixed ride. Villumsen won the 2015 World Championsh­ips but, then, there was the Rio disappoint­ment to stomach.

“It’s been a bit up and down — a hard time after Rio. That didn’t go as I’d wished so hopefully I can regain my top speed, top form, here. It was a bad result but it doesn’t mean you have to change everything.

“I’ve had a hard year I’ve been sick a couple of times but I feel like the last month-and-a-half I’ve been able

to give it everything so I’ve trained really hard for this.

“I always hope for a technical course but the more I’ve been out there the more I like it.”

Likewise Bond has done his best to learn the course, estimating he tackled it 30 to 40 times. At the start he endured a few yobbo yells but, as the Games drew closer, more and more Kiwis have screamed out messages of support as he rode by.

Still a relative newcomer to cycling, Bond admits many of his competitor­s won’t know who he is.

“I haven’t really achieved anything on a cycling internatio­nal level at all of note so for most I will be a bit of an unknown but that’s almost the beauty of the time-trial,” he said.

“Realistica­lly a medal is the goal but if I come up short and I feel like I’ve performanc­e to my physical best you’ve got to take that on the chin.”

 ?? Picture / ?? Linda Villumsen says she’ll decide on her future in the saddle after racing on the Gold Coast.
Picture / Linda Villumsen says she’ll decide on her future in the saddle after racing on the Gold Coast.

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