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Linda Villumsen overcomes early crash to hold on to second overall
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Linda Villumsen managed to put an early crash and an injured elbow behind her in the fourth stage of the Tour de l'Ardèche, between Le Pouzin and Cruas, to finish safely in the peloton and hold on to her second place overall. The New Zealander crossed the line with a large swelling on her left elbow, and went immediately to hospital, but thankfully the injury was found to be not too serious.
"Linda hit the deck today," Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope confirmed. "It was in the first five kilometres. By the time we got there she was back up and on her bike. She just rode off and there didn't seem to be any problems. We just knew she had a scuff on her elbow.
"Later on Lauren Kitchen dropped back to the car and said that Linda was struggling with her elbow and she needs the doctor," he explained. "You could see there was a big golf ball-like thing on her elbow, so the doctor came up and did something, I don't know what."
Despite the pain, Villumsen led the peloton over the three climbs of the stage - the Col du Méran, Col de Comberon and the Col de Tribes - to consolidate her lead in the mountains classification.
"Linda rode on and did her race" said Cope. "She took all the mountains points, but when she got to the finish there was a big, big lump so she went straight to hospital. It turned out that it was just full of blood, and I presume that it's been drained, but it's just going to be sore now.
"She should be okay tomorrow," he added.
The stage was won by Canadian champion Joëlle Numainville (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), ahead of teammate Lauren Hall, with Australia's Tiffany Cromwell third. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's best finisher was Charlotte Becker, who crossed the line in tenth place after having made sure that Villumsen had finished safely with the other favourites.
Villumsen remains in second overall, just fractions of a second behind race leader Alena Amialiusik (Be Pink) with two stages to go.
1. Joëlle Numainville (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
2. Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
3. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)
10. Charlotte Becker (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)