Great Britain's Emma Pooley is a fresh, new and successful presence in women's cycling. In only her first professional year, Pooley claimed third at the Grande Boucle Féminine, sixth at the Albstadt Frauen Etappenrennen and fifth in the Thüringen Rundfahrt. To crown off her successful season, she will ride both the time trial and road race for Britain in the World Championships. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer caught up with her in Stuttgart, Germany.
Emma Pooley is 25 and in her first professional season with Specialized Designs for Women squad, a small Swiss team sponsored by the American bike manufacturer. The Briton has been involved in organised sports for years, starting with tri- and duathlons. Such was her duathlon ability that she was World Champion in her age group, a title she plays down saying, "I only beat about eight other people in my age group". Pooley never made it to the elite level, she says, because her running was simply not good enough. Duathlon consists of running-cycling-running, and she soon discovered that if her running wasn't good enough that cycling was a good career path to take.
While still studying at Cambridge University, Pooley switched to cycling. She did some races as training, came in a surprising fourth in the 2005 British nationals and decided to drop running in favour of cycling. "It was a very rapid learning curve," observed Pooley. She even went to the 2005 World Championships, but crashed out and had an equally as memorable experience at the event last year. Pooley isn't yet a fulltime cyclist, she is currently completing research part time in the engineering field for her Ph.D.
Since Pooley only started racing two years ago she is still a little nervous in the peloton. Not that Pooley worries about her bike-handling skills, she quickly pointed out, but because she worries about the others around here. "I'm still not brilliant at getting up to the front by coming through the middle of the pack," Pooley admitted. "I've been brought down enough by other people that I don't like being stuck at the back. I get nervous about crashing or getting stuck at the back at the wrong time. "I will never do as well on flat terrain or downhill. I like climbing!"
On those occasions that Pooley successfully navigates her way to the front she's proven to be a force to be reckoned with. In the third stage of this year's Thüringen Rundfahrt, Pooley took off from the peloton at kilometre 40, on a short but steep climb and then was on her own for nearly three hours. She built up a lead of up to 12 minutes, and arrived at the finish line with a comfortable lead of 4 minutes 46 seconds. This gave her the overall lead, placed her at the head of both the sprint and mountain rankings, as well as the day's most aggressive rider award.
You can read the full interview here.