Emma Pooley (England) is getting ready to hang up her wheels at the Commonwealth Games before she embarks on a new career as a triathlete. The 2010 time trial world champion is going for gold at the in the same event at the Games this Thursday, before she helps out teammate Lizzie Armitstead in the road race.
Among Pooley's long list of achievements, she is still missing a Commonwealth medal. Pooley competed at the Games for the first time in 2010 in Delhi and finished ninth. The Lotto-Belisol rider is raring to go in what will be her last competitive time trial.
"I'll be nervous, but I’m really excited to do it," a relaxed Pooley told the press on Tuesday. "I don't know how I will do. I will do my best and that is the only thing I can do."
Unlike the road race this Sunday, the time trial route has been changed from the one race at the 2013 British national championships. It is a rolling and technical course that cuts through the east of Glasgow. For a rider of her small stature she will have to make up time against her more powerful rivals through the more technical sections.
"Ideally, it would just go uphill for 30km, but I don't think that they've got any hills as long as that here," Pooley said. "It's a challenging course, especially if it is windy. It is bumpy, I wouldn't say it's hilly. It definitely suits me better than Delhi, which was pan flat and out-and-back."
On Tuesday morning Pooley announced that the Commonwealth Games would be her last event as a rider before she retires from cycling with immediate effect. Once the Games are over she will give her full focus to triathlon, in which she has been competing successfully for several years. The English rider says that it is out of respect that she doesn't want to try and juggle the two at such a high level.
Pooley made the decision in June, and says that she couldn't have picked a better event to mark the closing of a chapter in her cycling life. "I didn't want to finish at the World Championships… the atmosphere is different there."
"If I don’t do as well as I'd hoped to, I would definitely be disappointed but it will still be a career high being here and riding for England," she explained. "I am emotional because it is my last games. The Giro was the same, because I knew I wouldn't race the Giro again properly."
With the Rio Olympics only two years away, Pooley says it made her decision a bit harder but she wasn't prepared to hang all her hopes on it. "It's a pretty big gamble for just one race. If I carried on just for Rio and didn't get selected that would be pretty disappointing. If I carried on to Rio for a medal, having got a medal in the Olympics which I am immensely proud of, it's a bit like anything less than a medal… it shouldn't be like that, but it was in London."
Pooley turned professional in 2006 with team Fat Birds UK. Since then she has built up an impressive palmarès. Her achievements include overall victories in the women's Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. Last month Pooley took her third national time trial title.
The 31-year-old lists her 2010 world time trial victory, Olympic silver medal, stage six of this year's Giro Rosa and the first time she managed to make it through the Cambridge cycling club chain gang without a push as proudest moments. However, if she was able to take a medal in Glasgow it would jump to the top of that list.
Pooley won't step away from cycling totally. She will remain part of the UCI women's commission until the end of the season, although, she would like to continue that into the future. As for her other career plans, Pooley says that a healthy cake recipe book is also on the cards.
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