Emma Pooley advised to take time out by British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton

Emma Pooley has hinted that she might have a tough decision to make regarding her cycling career after failing to join in with the 2012 sporting celebrations.

And, while far from wanting to shut the door in her face and lock it, British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton insists that some time off the saddle might be exactly what the doctor ordered for Norwich's former world road race champion.

Pooley headed into the London 2012 Olympics looking to go one better than her time trial silver from Beijing 2008 but could only manage sixth, while in the road race she was 40th.

That was tough to take but things didn't improve at the Road World Championships, Pooley finishing fourth in the time trial, having won gold in 2010 and bronze last year. She followed that up with 15th in the road race and, although she won team time trial bronze with her AA Drink-leontien.nl outfit in the Netherlands, it failed to lift her spirits.

Pooley has not tried to hide the fact that she is considering stepping away from the sport for good, but Sutton is urging her to take some time before making any hasty decisions, believing a break would do her good.

'Emma has made no bones about the fact that she is considering her future in the sport and I don't think that is very surprising,' said Sutton. 'She has gone out public and Emma has been very critical of the women's team and in turn she has not done it any favours.

'To criticise everything that she has done and say it is run by gangsters, or whatever it was; if you listen to Emma's interviews she seems quite bitter towards the sport at the minute. So maybe it is better that she takes some time away from the sport and reflects on why she got involved in the first place.

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'She is a lovely girl, listening to this off the back of a poor performance at the Olympics and seeing all the success going on around her, and after a great Games in Beijing from her perspective, it must have been hard, so maybe a break would do her good.'

Despite all eyes being on the capital this year, Pooley's World Championship disappointments would have been tougher to take with the Dutch course far better suited to her climbing skills than the flatter Olympic circuit.

And Sutton admits that her failure to climb the podium took even him by surprise.

'I firmly believed that Emma would come away from the World Championships with something to show for her efforts,' he added.

'It didn't work out in the time trial but I still thought she would be in the mix for road race gold and I thought it would just be her and Marianne Vos left alone at the end.

'But while Vos went on to gold it just didn't happen for Emma and that would have been very tough to take.'