Emma Pooley capped off a year of superlatives by winning the title of Female Road Rider of the Year in Cyclingnews' annual reader poll. The Briton won races all season long, topping it off with the World time trial title.
Pooley, 28, had 13 wins in the season, including national titles in both the road and time trial disciplines. She showed her versatility by her wide variety of wins: the Classics with Fleche Wallonne; other one-day races, such as the GP de Plouay-Bretagne World Cup; time trialing, as in the Grand Prix de Suisse Time Trial; and stage races, winning the overall titles in both the Tour de l'Aude and the Giro del Trentino.
At the British national road race, she finally stood on the top step of the podium, after finishing second in 2008 and third in 2009. In a race shortened by a mass crash, Pooley attacked constantly, and on her attack in the last lap was finally able to drop Nicole Cooke, who had won the title the last nine years. Pooley then stayed ahead to win by eight seconds.
After a full season she then went on to defend her national time trial title, covering the 33km course 19 seconds faster than her closest competitor.
In Geelong, she dominated the womens' time trial, setting best times at each split and won by 15 seconds over Germany's Judith Arndt. She overcame a certain amount of difficulty to take the title, as she was not on her usual bike, and the bike she was provided with didn't meet all the regulations. Last-minute adjustments were made, and Pooley was able to adapt to the new bike.
She was only the second Briton to win a time trial gold, and the first British woman. "Yeah, it's fantastic,” said Pooley. “I can't quite believe it. Maybe I will wake up in five minutes and it will be this morning again!
"I think the time trial is a fairly good test,” she added. “I'm really happy. I guess it all went well.”
Second place in the reader poll went to Marianne Vos, who this year claimed the Dutch national time trial title. and the overall titles in the Holland Ladies Tour and Gracia-Orlova, among her astonishingly long list of victories on the season.
Nicole Cooke was ranked third this year. Riding as an elite without a pro team, she still managed to win the time trial at Irrueta-Emakumeen Bira, and finished fourth in the Worlds road race.
Pooley happy and surprised
Pooley told Cyclingnews she was “thrilled” with the award. "It's a great compliment and to be honest I'm surprised to have beaten some of the others in the poll as they are truly great riders for whom I have a lot of respect.
“I feel that I owe the success I've had this year to the many people who have supported me so well - my wonderful teammates, excellent support staff at races, and team sponsors who made sure we always had the best equipment possible. Plus of course my coach and training colleagues who made training so much fun and thus so much easier.
“Winning the time trial in Geelong was the absolute highlight of the season; more than I could have dared hope for. I still can't quite believe it! But I had so many happy memorable races with the Cervélo team, it was a wonderful season. I doubt I can match it in 2011!”
Cyclingnews 2010 Reader Poll results – Best female road rider:
Emma Pooley, 5347 votes
Marianne Vos, 2613
Nicole Cooke, 2421
Mara Abbott, 1768
Judith Arndt, 946
Emma Johansson, 908
Ina Teutenberg, 872
Evelyn Stevens, 789
Lizzie Armitstead, 598
Giorgia Bronzini, 405
Annemiek Van Vleuten, 120