A huge cheer resounded as current national individual time trial (ITT) champion Emma Pooley lined up at the start line of the ITT in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games 2014. It was to be the last time for the English rider as she announced her impending retirement earlier in the week.
Some of the biggest names in women’s professional cycling graced the start line – Kaite Archibald, Joanna Rowsell, Elinor Barker and of course Emma Pooley. Archibald, Rowsell and Barker have already added to their medal collections in this year’s Games but Pooley was yet to stand on the podium.
A determined Pooley was second last to leave the start gate with her biggest rival Linda Villumsen of New Zealand setting off 60 seconds behind her. From the word go, Pooley displayed steely determination and rode with remarkable fluidity and pace throughout.
Pooley was first through checkpoint one, leading Villumsen by a miniscule 1.3 seconds. With wet roads, and over 40 corners to negotiate coupled with changing road surfaces, the 29.6km course was a challenging one. Choosing the right line was a crucial element of today’s race. It seemed for the likes of Joanna Rowsell who already has a gold to her name at this years’ Commonwealth Games that the transition from track to road was too great as she had dropped nine seconds at checkpoint one.
By the final stages of the race, Katie Archibald was fighting for a place on the podium, ultimately losing out on a bronze medal to Katrin Garfoot of Australia and eventually finishing in fifth position.
The most nail-biting action however came from the bid for gold between Villumsen and Pooley. It was neck and neck right down to the final metres. As Pooley sprinted to the finish line looking as fresh as she had at the start of the race, she crossed the line in 42 minutes, 31.49 seconds. Surely it was enough for gold?
But it wasn’t so, Villumsen showed prowess and athleticism as she sped through the final straight at a speed somewhere in the region of 70kph to cross the line in 42 minutes, 25.46 seconds beating Pooley by just 6.03 seconds. It was a thrilling race to watch.
Speaking to the BBC after the race Pooley expressed her disappointment:
"It was close, but I'm really happy to be on the podium," said Pooley. "When you come through and have the quickest time and then the only other person left beats you then it is disappointing."
One thing is for certain, Pooley left nothing on the course today.
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