Bruins brutal on potential usurpers
Emma Pooley's win in the GP de Plouay-Bretagne was as much a testament to the teamwork of the Cervélo TestTeam as it was the Briton's fantastic attack during the race. She was able to build and maintain her lead with such apparent ease thanks to strong support from her teammates behind in the peloton.
Even after being one of the more active teams in the early stages, once Pooley had escaped anyone who tried to follow was immediately marked by one of her teammates, particularly Regina Bruins and Claudia Hausler.
Despite a first lap crash that left her blooded and bruised on both sides, Bruins spent much of the latter half of the race responding to and stifling moves from a number of riders including previous winners Noemi Cantele and Nicole Brändli (both Bigla) and Marianne Vos (DSB Bank - Nederland Bloeit) as well as team efforts from Great Britain and Australia.
"I had to cover all the attacks," Bruins told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish. "I was surprised about my own performance, and I followed attacks. Unfortunately I was not strong enough to go with Nicole Cooke but I think we did a very good job and Emma is a very good climber - the best in the World I think.
"It's only possible when you have a good team together; it's not only me because in the first part Emilie [Aubry] and Lieselot [Decroix] also did a good job. Then you can do it together and then you can do this; so for Emma it's perfect and she is a super rider."
Hausler was active in attacking a number of times and it could easily have been the young German that got away instead of Pooley. Once her teammate had escaped though, she joined Bruins in the frustration of any would be pursuit. The attacks though, as she explained, had been made a little earlier than usual due to the inclement conditions in the race's mid section.
"Our plan was to attack a little later," she explained, "but the weather was like this [wind and rain] and we knew that we shouldn't risk and wait for the crash so we started attacking early and I think. In the end, this was the best solution for us.
"It was a ****ing hard race!" she laughed. "But that was what we wanted."