Emma Pooley has signed for the Lotto Belisol Ladies' team in 2014. The 31-year-old British rider will bring her climbing and time trial skills to the Belgian squad. She is making the move from the Bigla team.
"Next season, my focus will be on the Giro Rosa and the Flèche Wallonne, which will be the most important races for me," said Pooley according to her new team.
"I'll see with the team what other races I will take part in, but those two are my main goals. It depends a bit on the course of the Giro, but if I participate in a race, I try to win it. That doesn't automatically mean I can win it, but that's what I'll aim for. You should always aim for your best and then you'll see where you end up. I'll probably be also happy with a podium place, but I have never won the Giro and, of course, I would like to be the best one day. And in the Flèche Wallonne, I'll try for a second victory."
Pooley's palmares include several major victories such as the overall classification of La Grande Boucle Féminine in 2009. She has also won the Tour de l'Ardèche twice, and this year she was the best in the Tour Languedoc Roussillon. She has finished in the top five of the Giro four times, and in 2011 and 2012 she was second. Since her pro début in 2006, she has also won several one-day races like the Flèche Wallonne in 2010, the GP Ouest France - Plouay and the Trofeo Binda.
In 2010, Pooley became world time trial champion in Geelong. In the same year, she was British champion on the road and in the time trial. In 2008, she won the silver medal at the Beijing Olympic time trial race, and in 2012, she was sixth at the Olympic time trial. She intends to compete until 2016, when Brazil will host the summer Olympics.
"In the more distant future, I'd like to aim for Rio 2016, but that depends partly on the course as well. If it suits me, I will definitely aim for the time trial," said Pooley. "My plan is to race until 2016 if I can."
Pooley is getting her PhD in geotechnical engineering. She also competes in triathlons and marathons.
"In December, I will finish my studies. It has been a really hard year combining them with cycling. Now there's lots of pressure with the final exams coming up, but next year, I will focus on sport full-time," she said.
"I find I really enjoy combining different sports. Sometimes you need to focus on one discipline to get the best from it, but I love other sports as well and next season I'll try to combine road racing and triathlon again. I think it's good for my head to have that challenge. I've agreed this with the team and we will plan it carefully, so it doesn't damage my commitment to the Lotto Belisol Ladies."
Pooley is looking forward to a mentoring role with others on the Lotto Belisol team.
"I'd like to share my experience with the other girls in the team," she said. "I enjoyed it this year, riding in a team with younger cyclists and playing the role of a director on the road sometimes. That was also good for me, because it made me think more while racing and it gave me extra confidence."
"I like that role, but I think the Lotto Belisol Ladies is different from my team this year. They already have experienced riders, even young riders who I know, like Amy Cure or some of the Belgian youngsters. They are very smart already and don't need someone always to tell them the tactics. There are a lot of races where they'll be better than me. But if I can pass on my experience in some races, I'd be happy to do this. I'm also looking forward to riding again with Isabelle Beckers again, a teammate from this season."