Emma Pooley returns to professional cycling with Team Lotto Belisol

Former World Time Trial Champion, Emma Pooley stepped away from professional cycling in 2013, taking time to concentrate on her PhD in geotechnical engineering, but we're pleased to announce she's back.

Britain’s Emma Pooley is targeting the Giro Rosa and Flèche Wallonne after signing for Team Lotto Belisol on her return to the pro peloton for 2014.

Emma Pooley

The former World Time Trial Champion had stepped away from the sport in 2013, taking time to complete her PhD in geotechnical engineering, but this month signed for the Belgian team.

Both her target races are ones where she has experienced previous success, with four top five Giro finishes, including second in both 2011 and 2012 and winning Flèche in 2010.

The route for the Giro is yet to be announced, though that has not effected Emma’s ambition, “It depends a bit on the course of the Giro,” she said, “but if I participate in a race I try to win it, that doesn’t automatically mean I can win it but that’s what I aim for.

I’ll probably be also happy with a podium place, but I have never won the Giro and of course I would like to be the best one day. And in the Flèche Wallonne I’ll try for a second victory.

Pooley didn’t spend all of 2013 with her head stuck in a book, as well as riding for the amateur Bigla Girls Cycling Team and winning the Tour de Languedoc-Roussillon, she won the Swissman Ironman triathlon and the Lausanne marathon in October.

Pooley World Time Trial Champion 2010

Riding with the Swiss team gave Pooley the chance to mentor some of the younger riders, something she is hoping to continue in 2014. “I’d like to share my experience with the other girls in the team.” she said, “I really enjoyed it this year, riding in a team with younger cyclists and playing the role of a director on the road sometimes.

“That was also good for me, because it made me think more while racing and it gave me extra confidence. I like that role, but I think the Lotto Belisol Ladies is different from my team this year.

They already got experienced riders, some of the Belgian youngsters there’re very smart already and don’t need someone to tell them the tactics necessarily. But, if I can pass on my experience in some races I’d be really happy to do this.

In 2009 Emma won the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale – a women’s version of the Tour de France – which was shortened that year and became the final running of the race.

Emma Pooley competing in the Olympic Time Trial in 2012. Picture for GOC by David Poultney

So qualified, this year she joined forces with journalist and rider Kathryn Bertine, World Champion Marianne Vos, and four times World Ironman Champion, Chrissie Wellington, between them launching Le Tour Entier, a website and petition calling for a women’s race at the Tour de France.

Only this month she wrote on the subject in ProCycling magazine, “I’d love to see a women’s Tour race over exactly the same route but I appreciate that’s not realistic in the short term.

It would be a huge change to our race length and would clash with the current women’s calendar, so we don’t want to gain one race at the expense of diminishing great races like the Giro Rosa and Thuringen.

Having won a silver medal in the time trial at the Beijing in 2008, Pooley still harbours Olympic ambitions, “In the further future I’d like to aim for Rio 2016, but that depends partly on the course as well. If it suits me I will definitely aim for the time trial. My plan is to race until 2016 if I can.”

But that doesn’t mean she’ll concentrate only on cycling, “In December I will finish my studies, but next year I will focus on sport full-time. I find I really enjoy combining different sports, and next season I’ll try to combine road racing and triathlon again.

“I’ve agreed this with the team and we will plan it carefully, so it doesn’t damage my commitment to the Lotto Belisol Ladies.”

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