Retirement is a scary word for many pro cyclists, and it seems for Emma Pooley it wasn’t exactly the final word when she announced the end of her cycling career in 2014.
Former World Time Trial Champion Emma Pooley planned to retire from the sport after taking second in both the Road Race and Time Trial at the Commonwealth Games. She returned to her initial love of triathlon, and this year won both the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon Long course race and Powerman Duathlon World Championships.
However, the lure of the hilly time trial course at the Rio Olympics has pulled her back in. The 29.8km course will feature a 1.2km climb and if Pooley does race the time trial, she would compete and support Lizzie Armitstead in the the road race also.
The road race is also hilly and well suited to her strengths. Over 130km there will be a 1.2km climb which maxes out at 13 per cent and a 2.1km climb with an average of 4.5 per cent as well as a 2km cobbled section.
The 33-year-old has a range of sponsors who expect her to compete in long distance triathlons, and she certainly won’t be letting them down – instead intending to continue on her path and race in Rio as well.
She told The Guardian: “My main focus will remain long-distance triathlon and duathlon. That’s what my sponsors Tempo-Sport bikespeed.ch and NGI support me in competing at…[but] because of the hilly nature of the time trial course in Rio this is a truly rare opportunity that I can’t resist. I’ve decided it’s worth a serious attempt at targeting that event. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a comeback but 2016 will certainly be a different race programme for me."
British Cycling Technical Director Shane Sutton explained to The Guardian that the GB Team contacted Pooley, commenting: “The wheels are well in motion to get Emma on track for the Games; she was sixth in the [Tour de] Vendée after not riding a UCI race for a while and that meant she had the points needed to qualify. We were looking around and on that hilly course there isn’t a rider on the national front capable of making the top 15. We looked at the course and we couldn’t let the chance slip by if Emma was interested so we approached her."
Sutton added: “I’m really pleased that Emma is back with us as that enhances our medal opportunities in the time trial, and it will also enhance Lizzie’s opportunity to win if we can have a pure mountain climber like Emma with her in the road race. The field will fall away from behind but I don’t see Emma falling behind, so I would like to see her in the road race supporting Lizzie."