Emma Pooley (England) signed off on her professional cycling career by helping her teammate Lizzie Armitstead to gold and helping herself to a second silver medal in four days at the Commonwealth Games.
“I was pretty sure that Lizzie had the legs to win, but plans don’t always go to plan. To hang on for silver, for me that was fantastic and unexpected,” an emotional Pooley said after the finish. “It’s a nice way to finish with a medal in your last race. I expected to be worked into the dust and finish last or something. It’s pretty special. Don’t ask me if I’m disappointed, because I’m not.”
Plan A for England was to deliver Armitstead to victory, as she had won the British title on the Glasgow circuit last year and was the in-form rider this season. It was Australia who took the initiative and forced the English to chase. However, the tables turned as the race approached its conclusion. Pooley made a number of key moves in the final three laps that would prove decisive in shaping the outcome.
Pooley made the initial move on lap five that would split the race and took the riders who would later fight it out for the medals. She was consistent in her persistence on the climbs and forced Australia to hunt her down until she jumped again with 5km to go. If Armitstead hadn’t attacked, Pooley may well have been able to end her career with a gold medal. However, the experienced rider was more than happy to give up her own hopes for her younger teammate.
“That’s the way it is in road racing, you do your job,” said Pooley. “She (Armitstead) did a fantastic job and I would rather ride for Lizzie and she wins, than ride for me and I come second and an Australian win. Not just the Australians obviously, it’s better if the team wins and to go one-two is pretty difficult.”
It was an emotional moment for Pooley as she crossed the line. The English rider was in tears as she rolled up to her teammate and newly-crowned champion Armitstead. “I could just hear the crowd and I could feel the emotion. I knew that my family and friends were there and it just got to me.”
Pooley isn’t hanging up her wheels completely. She will be adding a swim suit and a pair of trainers to her bike as she takes on triathlon.