It’s fair to say that British Cycling has never endured a period as difficult as this one, with allegations of sexism, discrimination, bullying, illegitimate online auctions of kit and a positive anti-doping test for a leading rider all combining to bring the ship crashing into a series of icebergs. Thankfully, Emma Pooley is here, and she’s brought enough lifejackets for everyone. Well, almost everyone.
We meet in lobby of the Great Britain team hotel on the outskirts of Leeds and when Pooley arrives she has just had her final pre-race meeting ahead of the Women’s Tour of Yorkshire. It’s late, she’s tired and not to mention a little nervous about her return to racing but there’s decaffeinated tea on tap and the chance to air her thoughts fully after selected quotes from a Guardian interview were picked up during last week’s frenzy.
“The biggest improvement though has been around media coverage. There’s no point to racing if no one covers it. Plenty of people race at amateur level but the point to elite sport is that you can be an inspiration to others. If you want a sport to be professional then you need media coverage so the more people that see women’s cycling then the more demand that there is for coverage. That’s what has really pleased me.”
Pooley 2.0 will – should she be selected – see her compete in the road race and the time trial. The time trial will be her main objective, while in the road race she has the quality and experience to ride as either a contender or as a foil for Armitstead’s chances.