British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton has conceded that Emma Pooley might benefit from taking some time away from cycling in 2013. In the wake of the London 2012 Olympics, Pooley revealed that she was considering a break from the sport and reiterated that stance during the world championships in Valkenburg last month.
Shortly after the Olympics, it had emerged that Pooley’s AA Drink-leontien.nl team was to disband at the end of the season, while the rider herself was critical of the UCI’s efforts to develop women’s cycling and questioned why Team Sky did not fund a women’s team.
“Emma has made no bones about the fact that she is considering her future in the sport and I don’t think that is very surprising,” Sutton told The Norwich Evening News. “She has gone out public and Emma has been very critical of the women’s team and in turn she has not done it any favours.
“To criticise everything that she has done and say it is run by gangsters, or whatever it was; if you listen to Emma’s interviews she seems quite bitter towards the sport at the minute. So maybe it is better that she takes some time away from the sport and reflects on why she got involved in the first place.”
An Olympic silver medallist in the time trial in Beijing in 2008, Pooley was unable to match that showing on home roads in 2012, and during the Worlds confessed to being disappointed by her relative lack of progress this season. “I do feel like I haven't improved this year,” Pooley said after finishing fourth in the individual time trial.
“She is a lovely girl, listening to this off the back of a poor performance at the Olympics and seeing all the success going on around her, and after a great Games in Beijing from her perspective, it must have been hard, so maybe a break would do her good,” Sutton said.
The Australian also said that Pooley would have expected to have put up a sterner challenge to eventual winner Marianne Vos (Netherlands) in the road race in Valkenburg. Pooley won the Tour de l'Ardeche in the build-up to the Worlds, but was not part of the winning break in the road race, and came home over four minutes down on Vos in 15th place.
“I firmly believed that Emma would come away from the world championships with something to show for her efforts,” Sutton said. “It didn’t work out in the time trial but I still thought she would be in the mix for road race gold and I thought it would just be her and Marianne Vos left alone at the end. But while Vos went on to gold it just didn’t happen for Emma and that would have been very tough to take.”