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Columbia-Highroad’s Linda Villumsen takes the Tour de l’Aude Féminin prologue

Columbia-Highroad's Linda Villumsen won Friday's prologue at the Tour de l’Aude Féminin, the most prestigious stage race in the world of professional women’s cycling. Villumsen, the Danish national time trial champ, won the 3.9 km prologue through the French town of Gruissan in 4:52.22. American Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo) and Amber Neben (Nürnberger Versicherung) were fourth and sixth, both three seconds behind Villumsen and separated by a fraction of a second. Sandwiched between was Columbia's Ina Teutenberg in fifth.

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Armstrong, Neben are three seconds back at the 10-day stage race.

By Fred Dreier

Columbia-Highroad’s Linda Villumsen won Friday’s prologue at the Tour de l’Aude Féminin, the most prestigious stage race in the world of professional women’s cycling.

Villumsen, the Danish national time trial champ, won the 3.9 km prologue through the French town of Gruissan in 4:52.22. American Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo) and Amber Neben (Nürnberger Versicherung) were fourth and sixth, both three seconds behind Villumsen and separated by a fraction of a second. Sandwiched between was Columbia’s Ina Teutenberg in fifth.

“I only knew I’d gotten the best time when I saw a couple of race officials chasing after me when I’d crossed the finish line,” Villumsen said. “I was quite surprised they told me I was the fastest, because I’d wanted to do well but I’ve only ever won one prologue before. Normally I always seemed to finish somewhere in the top five without ever winning, so I told the race officials to check their times again. But when they insisted, I had to believe them!”

A race with history

The ten-day race runs through May 24 and includes 860 total kilometers of racing.

The racecourse winds through the mountainous region of Southern France, and includes climbs in the Pyrenees and along the Mediterranean coast.

The 2009 edition marks the 25th anniversary of the race, which was first won in 1985 by American Jeanette Parks. The winner’s list at l’Aude reads like a who’s who of professional women’s cycling over the last quarter century: the ageless Jeannie Longo won the 1988 and 1993 editions; Dutch star Leontien Van Moorsel took top honors in 1991; Canada’s Lyne Bessette won in 1999 and 2001; Judith Arndt in 2002 and 2003; and Susanne Ljungskog scored back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008.

The race has also been kind to North Americans. Americans Phyllis Hines and Julie Young won in 1986 and 1992, and Canada’s Linda Jackson, now director of the California-based Tibco women’s squad, won in 1997.

The most recent North American champion is Neben, who took the overall in 2005 and 2006. Neben, the current world time trial champion, took the 2005 edition by just one second ahead of German Trixi Worrack.

Neben is back this year, riding alongside Worrack on the German Nürnberger Versicherung team. The team’s primary goal will be to dethrone Ljungskog, who in 2008 traded the yellow jersey with Arndt before taking a decisive win on the race’s climb-filled queen stage. This year Ljungskog heads up the Flexpoint squad.

Arndt is not at at the 2009 edition. The Columbia-Highroad strongwoman has suffered a string of injuries this year including ones resulting from a collision with a car. Columbia will look to riding stars Chantal Beltman and Emilia Fahlin.

Armstrong, the 2008 Olympic time trial champion, is also a favorite to challenge for the victory. Armstrong finished third at the 2005 edition; however she has proven to be on great form this year. Riding without teammates, Armstrong handily won New Mexico’s Tour of the Gila, winning three of the race’s four stages and breaking Longo’s long-standing time trial record by almost two minutes. And most recently she took her first-ever World Cup victory at Switzerland’s Tour de Berne.

Armstrong will headline the Cervelo TestTeam alongside British rider Emma Pooley.

Other North Americans competing in the race are Canadians Moriah MacGregor, Julie Beveridge, Carrie Cartmill, Heather Logan, Sarah Stewart and Jenny Trew (all Canadian National Team), Audrey Lemieux and Joelle Numainville (both ESGL93-GSD Gestion).

Results

  • 1. Linda Villumsen (GER) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 04:52.22
  • 2. Regina Bruins (NED) Cervelo Test Team in 04:52.72
  • 3. Noëmie Cantele (ITA) Bigla Cycling Team in 04:53.44
  • 4. Kristin Armstrong (USA) Cervelo Test Team in 04:55.25 at 03
  • 5. Ina Teutenberg (GER) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 04:55.61 at 03
  • 6. Amber Neben (USA) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 04:55.88 at 03
  • 7. Marianne Vos (NED) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 04:56.82 at 04
  • 8. Mirjam Melchers_van_poppel (NED) Team Flexpoint in 04:59.16 at 07
  • 9. Emma Johansson (SWE) Red Sun Cycling Team in 04:59.27 at 07
  • 10. Trine Schmidt (DEN) Team Flexpoint in 05:00.26 at 08
  • 11. Loes Gunnewijk (NED) Team Flexpoint in 05:01.72 at 09
  • 12. Trixi Worrack (GER) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 05:03.79 at 11
  • 13. Katherine Bates (AUS) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 05:03.95 at 11
  • 14. Tatiana Antoshina (RUS) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:04.38 at 12
  • 15. Charlotte Becker (GER) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 05:04.85 at 12
  • 16. Claudia Hausler (GER) Cervelo Test Team in 05:05.07 at 13
  • 17. Modesta Vzesniauskaite (LTU) Bigla Cycling Team in 05:05.11 at 13
  • 18. Susanne Ljungskog (SWE) Team Flexpoint in 05:05.20 at 13
  • 19. Emma Pooley (GBR) Cervelo Test Team in 05:05.56 at 13
  • 20. Madeleine Sandig (GER) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 05:06.20 at 14
  • 21. Liesbeth De_vocht (BEL) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 05:06.51 at 14
  • 22. Anne Blyth (GBR) in 05:07.36 at 15
  • 23. Chantal Beltman (NED) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 05:07.49 at 15
  • 24. Iris Slappendel (NED) Team Flexpoint in 05:07.69 at 15
  • 25. Nicole Cooke (GBR) Vision 1 Racing in 05:08.99 at 16
  • 26. Nikki Harris (GBR) in 05:09.01 at 17
  • 27. Julia Martisova (RUS) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:09.83 at 17
  • 28. Denise Zuckermandel (GER) in 05:10.22 at 18
  • 29. Svetlana Bubnenkova (RUS) Fenixs in 05:10.51 at 18
  • 30. Vicki Whitelaw (AUS) Vision 1 Racing in 05:11.28 at 19
  • 31. Chantal Blaak (NED) in 05:12.33 at 20
  • 32. Julie Beveridge (CAN) in 05:13.18 at 21
  • 33. Elisabeth Armitstead (GBR) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 05:13.90 at 21
  • 34. Emilia Fahlin (SWE) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 05:14.33 at 22
  • 35. Kaytee Boyd (NZL) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:14.69 at 22
  • 36. Pascale Jeuland (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:15.33 at 23
  • 37. Eva Lutz (GER) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 05:15.41 at 23
  • 38. Oxana Kozonchuk (RUS) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:15.73 at 23
  • 39. Silvia Valsecchi (ITA) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:16.02 at 24
  • 40. Sanne Van_paassen (NED) in 05:16.57 at 24
  • 41. Heather Logan (CAN) in 05:17.07 at 25
  • 42. Natalia Boyarskaya (RUS) Fenixs in 05:17.66 at 25
  • 43. Lina-Kristin Schink (GER) in 05:18.01 at 26
  • 44. Katie Colclough (GBR) in 05:18.41 at 26
  • 45. Monica Holler (SWE) Bigla Cycling Team in 05:18.61 at 26
  • 46. Angela Hennig (GER) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 05:18.63 at 26
  • 47. Paulina Brzezna (POL) Red Sun Cycling Team in 05:19.52 at 27
  • 48. Jennifer Fischer (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:20.28 at 28
  • 49. Tania Belvederesi (ITA) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:20.56 at 28
  • 50. Patricia Schwager (NED) Cervelo Test Team in 05:20.65 at 28
  • 51. Audrey Lemieux (CAN) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:20.81 at 28
  • 52. Alexandra Greenfield (GBR) in 05:20.90 at 28
  • 53. Saskia Elemans (NED) Team Flexpoint in 05:20.95 at 28
  • 54. Lucy Martin (GBR) in 05:21.44 at 29
  • 55. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (FRA) Vision 1 Racing in 05:21.63 at 29
  • 56. Tina Liebig (GER) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 05:21.92 at 29
  • 57. Luise Keller (GER) Team Columbia Highroad Women in 05:22.00 at 30
  • 58. Joelle Numainville (CAN) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:22.33 at 30
  • 59. Leda Cox (GBR) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:23.04 at 31
  • 60. Lucinda Brand (NED) in 05:23.29 at 31
  • 61. Noortje Tabak (NED) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 05:24.45 at 32
  • 62. Moriah Macgregor (CAN) in 05:24.92 at 32
  • 63. Bettina Kuhn (SUI) Bigla Cycling Team in 05:25.37 at 33
  • 64. Helen Wyman (GBR) Vision 1 Racing in 05:25.72 at 33
  • 65. Audrey Cordon (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:26.09 at 34
  • 66. Martine Bras (NED) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:26.51 at 34
  • 67. Veronica Andreasson (SWE) Bigla Cycling Team in 05:26.76 at 34
  • 68. Mascha Pijnenborg (NED) Red Sun Cycling Team in 05:27.43 at 35
  • 69. Laure Werner (BEL) Red Sun Cycling Team in 05:27.84 at 35
  • 70. Janine Bubner (GER) in 05:27.94 at 35
  • 71. Grace Verbeke (BEL) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 05:27.99 at 35
  • 72. Marlijn Binnendijk (NED) in 05:28.12 at 36
  • 73. Catherine Hare_willianson (GBR) Fenixs in 05:28.36 at 36
  • 74. Virginia Hennig (GER) in 05:28.53 at 36
  • 75. Fiona Dutriaux (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:28.60 at 36
  • 76. Jenny Trew (CAN) in 05:28.89 at 36
  • 77. Marieke Van_wanroij (NED) Dsb Bank – Nederland Bloeit in 05:29.38 at 37
  • 78. Valentina Bastianelli (ITA) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:30.04 at 38
  • 79. Sarah Stewart (CAN) in 05:30.51 at 38
  • 80. Jana Schemmer (GER) in 05:32.36 at 40
  • 81. Jennifer Hohl (SUI) Bigla Cycling Team in 05:32.57 at 40
  • 82. Ludivine Henrion (BEL) Red Sun Cycling Team in 05:33.32 at 41
  • 83. Lieselot Decroix (BEL) Cervelo Test Team in 05:33.64 at 41
  • 84. Béatrice Thomas (FRA) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:33.89 at 41
  • 85. Karin Aune (SWE) Fenixs in 05:34.88 at 42
  • 86. Catherine Delfosse (BEL) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 05:35.58 at 43
  • 87. Nadezda Vlasova (RUS) Fenixs in 05:36.19 at 44
  • 88. Emmanuelle Merlot (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:36.22 at 44
  • 89. Marina Romoli (ITA) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:36.27 at 44
  • 90. Martina Corazza (ITA) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:36.29 at 44
  • 91. Suzanne Van_veen (NED) in 05:36.56 at 44
  • 92. Mélodie Lesueur (FRA) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:37.62 at 45
  • 93. Gabriella Day (GBR) Vision 1 Racing in 05:37.91 at 45
  • 94. Elise Depoorter (BEL) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 05:38.77 at 46
  • 95. Petra Dijkman (NED) Red Sun Cycling Team in 05:39.76 at 47
  • 96. Veronica Alessio (ITA) Gauss Rdz Ormu – Colnago in 05:40.09 at 48
  • 97. Den Van (BERG) in NED at VOR
  • 98. Den Van (BROEK) in NED at NED
  • 99. Bianca Puratch-Knoepfle (GER) Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung in 05:42.68 at 50
  • 100. Carrie Cartmill (CAN) in 05:42.77 at 50
  • 101. Nathalie Jeuland (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope in 05:44.41 at 52
  • 102. Jennifer Letue (FRA) Esgl 93 – Gsd Gestion in 05:47.36 at 55
  • 103. Kim Schoonbaert (BEL) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 05:49.08 at 57
  • 104. Sigrid Corneo (SLO) Selle Italia Ghezzi in 05:50.73 at 58
  • 105. Emma Silversides (GBR) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam in 06:02.02 at 01:10
  • 106. Elena Eggl (GER) in 06:02.81 at 01:10