Emma Johansson’s move to Wiggle-Honda was the first big announcement of this season’s transfer market. The multiple Swedish national champion moves to the team on a two-year contract and will join a very strong line-up that includes double World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and double Giro Rosa winner Mara Abbott.
“I think new challenges and a bit of change can be good for you,” Johansson told Cyclingnews following the announcement. “I’ve always looked up to Rochelle (Gilmore) and seeing what she has been creating, and I’ve got a good relationship with her. I feel I’m ready for a change now and it gives me an opportunity. She gives you other options as well, not only in the racing part but everything that goes around it.”
Johansson is hoping to go out with a bang next season. Despite having a two-year contract with Wiggle-Honda, beginning next year, Johansson has set her sights on 2016 as a chance to go all out before she switches her focus to different goals. What exactly that focus will be, Johansson doesn’t know just yet but she hopes to stay in cycling in one way or another.
“I am going to bring it down from a high level and where I am now. I really want a family and I really want to move on but it also gives me a chance to stay in the sport. I’m getting questions about what I’m going to do, but I can’t really give a good answer,” said Johansson. “I’ve always been talking about doing a bit of mountain biking or doing a bit of cyclo-cross.
“I just know that I’m going all in for the whole season and to try and finish a great career on top.”
Johansson has been a professional rider for 10 years after making her professional debut with the Bizkaia Panda Software Durango team in 2005. Since then, she has become one of the most consistent performers in the peloton and is one of the few who was able to challenge the dominant talent of Marianne Vos in her pomp. During her career, Johansson has notched up 12 national titles, three overall titles at the Thüringen Rundfahrt and one-day victories at the Ronde van Drenthe and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
On the world stage, Johansson has stepped on the podium four times at the World Championships and took silver at the 2008 Olympic Games behind Nicole Cooke. It is the Olympics that will form the main focus of Johansson’s final season at the top level. The 130.3-kilometre course includes two different circuits which contain three climbs between them and a two-kilometre cobbled section.
“I think it’s going to be a tough one and I really believe that it can suit me,” said Johansson, who is targeting her second Olympic medal. “It’s what you dream of. I’ve been working so hard. I always say that as soon as I’m on the start line it doesn’t matter if Olympic or a kermesse or a World Cup, all races are important but a medal is very heavy and just the whole thing around it makes it so big. It would definitely be a dream come true.”
There is still this season to think about however, with some pretty big goals in the coming months. After the success of last season, which saw her finish second in the World Cup standings, it has been a challenging year for Johansson. The 31-year-old broke her collarbone in March and struggled to re-find her form but things came good this summer when she won the one-day Durango Durango, dominated the Swedish national championships and went on to win her third Thüringen Rundfahrt title.
Johansson will be looking to carry that form towards her next big target of the World Championships in Richmond. She is likely to compete in the time trial, but only as a leg-tester for the road race where she has stood on the podium in the last two editions.
“I feel like I’m definitely where I need to be. August and September are two very important months with a lot of racing going on but what you do in between those races is really important to keep the form and to keep your focus for the Worlds,” said Johansson. “I’ve seen the course on the website. I haven’t seen all of it but everyone who has been there says that it’s going to be a good course and a pretty hard one. It won’t be super hard but it’s more of a classics style type of course. I think that it can definitely suit me.
“Obviously it’s always interesting to see because with Sweden being a smaller nation we can’t create the race. It’s more up to the bigger nations to control the race, we can’t really make it. Hopefully it will be a hard one.”
Following a whirlwind weekend that saw her ride the RideLondon GP and the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum, Germany, on consecutive days, Johansson is back home in Norway for a short training block. Next on her calendar will be the Ladies Tour of Norway, the Open de Suède Vargarda and the GP Plouay.