By Ben Atkins in Cittiglio, Italy
British climber Emma Pooley (Specialized Designs for Women) has taken the biggest victory of her career in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the second round of this year's World Cup. Pooley attacked with Priska Doppmann (Cervelo-Lifeforce Pro Cycling) and Miho Oki (Menikini-Selle Italia) with around 40 kilometres to go and continued alone when her companions dropped back to an unresponsive peloton containing most of the favourites of the day.
She managed to build up a lead of up to two minutes forty-five seconds which the chase managed to reduce by the end, but in truth the twenty-five year old never looked like being caught.
"We were instructed to cover attacks, so the attack that I went with just before: that was planned, but to go on my own was not planned!" said Pooley.
"It was impulsive, I would say," she added. "I knew it was a bit early to attack, but I was in the right place and I thought I would have a go. I thought some people would come with me - maybe two or three others - it looked like an attack was going to go. But I was on my own so I thought I would keep riding."
Despite there being several strong teams featuring a number of race favourites present, none of them seemed willing to commit to a chase, and it soon became obvious that the peloton were not going to catch the former triathlete. The expected challenge from teams like High Road, Safi-Pasta Zara Manhatten and Titanedi-Frezza Acca Due O never materialised, but Pooley didn't want to take things for granted until she was sure of victory.
"I didn't count my chickens until I was over the finish line, but when it came to the last small lap and I still had a couple of minutes I was happy that I could keep going. I knew that I could keep going at roughly the same pace, well I was slowing down, but two minutes I thought they probably couldn't get back."
Behind Pooley there were several counter-attacks, most notably from Priska Doppmann (Cervelo-Lifeforce Pro Cycling), but none were able to make any impression on the lead of the Swiss-based Briton. A last ditch attack, initiated by World Champion Marta Bastianelli (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan), and joined by defending champion Nicole Cooke (Halfords-Bikehut) and American Kristin Armstrong Cervelo-Lifeforce Pro Cycling).
"I would have thought that with the field that is here today, they could have chased," said Pooley. "They should know by now that that's what I do, because I've done it once before - in Thüringen. I am a time triallist, so you'd think that they would try and get me back. I was surprised."
The Briton's World Cup victory in Italy throws her into the joint World Cup lead after two rounds. While Pooley is a strong rider, her victory was the second unexpected World Cup win from as many rounds after Katheryn Curi Mattis of the Webcor Builders squad won the opening round in Geelong, Australia last month.
For results, photos and a full report from Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio, click here.