New beginning beckons as Norwich rider Emma Pooley cycles off in style
- Credit: PA
Emma Pooley bowed out in perfect style in Glasgow yesterday, selflessly helping her team-mate Lizzie Armitstead to gold in the road race before hanging on to claim silver herself.
It was a fitting end to the VC Norwich rider's career before she switches to focus on endurance triathlons, and the 31-year-old admitted as much afterwards.
After the English team had done their part to protect Armitstead, the team leader and England's best hope of a gold, during the opening stages it was left to Pooley for the final three laps of the 98km Commonwealth Games course.
And Pooley did her job flawlessly, setting the pace and responding to any attempted breaks from the Australians and New Zealanders still in contention.
Then, on the final lap, Pooley broke clear, stretching her rivals to breaking point while Armitstead watched on at the back of the pack, biding her time.
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The set-up was complete and Armitstead's counter-attack was timed to perfection – and Pooley still had enough in her legs to hold on for a silver medal, finishing 25 seconds behind her compatriot.
'It was quite unexpected because we were working for Lizzie and I wanted to give everything for her,' said Pooley. 'I didn't want to do a half-job because I know I'm not as strong as her in a road race.
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'When she came past me I was still clear and I thought if they are not on my wheel I may as well keep going. I'm really pleased because I think Lizzie rode a perfect race, but she had a good team behind her.'
And so ends a remarkable career for Pooley, the 2010 world time trial champion and silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympics who first represented Britain back in 2007.
But for the woman herself, who also claimed time trial silver on the road at these Games, there are no regrets, knowing she is leaving British cycling in very safe hands.
'The young girls are really strong so the future's bright and I don't feel like I'm leaving a team without plenty of good riders to keep them going,' she added. 'It was really nice to finish on a high – I wasn't dreading this, but I have a lot of respect for road racers as anything can happen.
'I was so happy after the time trial and I was a bit worried I may not do the job in the road race properly so I'm pleased we got it right.
'It's a lovely way to finish in the sport and all my family is here watching with lots of friends. It has been a long nine years and I'm really happy to finish on a high. The crowd were amazing too and it was lovely to see that support.'