Emma Pooley explains how she plans to convert from running to cycling in time for August's Olympic Games

Emma Pooley says she is two months of training away from hitting form for the Rio Olympics after she made her return to road racing at the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race following a hiatus of almost two years.

Pooley finished 66th in the event in Doncaster after helping her team leader Lizzie Armitstead and teammate Alice Barnes, who finished fourth.

With less than 100 days to go until the Games, she explained that she was lacking the top end power required to be competitive but was confident of being able to put herself into contention for selection for the Olympic Games road events in August.

“I’m about two months of specific training off [form good enough for Rio], but I’m not training for road racing and time trials at the moment,” Pooley told Cycling Weekly.

“I think I’m pretty strong, I do plenty of weights, but it’s just putting out the top end power, the torque at the top end, which is the difference between cycling and running.”

Pooley, 33, has twice been crowned duathlon world champion since winning silver at the Commonwealth Games road race in Glasgow in 2014, also winning the Alpe d’Huez triathlon in 2015.

She competed in a half Ironman last weekend before racing in Yorkshire, and she will race another half Ironman next weekend and again in June.

She added that the running training meant she was not yet able to be competitive at the finale of top level road races but that confirmation of selection in June would allow her enough time to train specifically for cycling.

“Running really takes it out of your legs, the top end you need to jump with attacks,” she explained.

“At the start of June I’ll know more about selection and if I’m selected then I’ll concentrate on road cycling.”

Having been out of the professional peloton for almost two years, Pooley – who has a PhD in soil science and won Christmas University Challenge in 2015 representing her Cambridge college – believed that the strength in depth of the women’s peloton had improved since she last pinned a number on her back in a mass start road race.

“From what I’ve heard the level of women’s cycling has improved both in the UK and internationally,” she said. “It’s hard to tell how much of me feeling like crap is the fact that I haven’t done a road race in a while and how much is the peloton improving, but I think the strength in depth is improving and it’s great to see so many British riders in the race doing well.”

  • John Senior

    Looks like a no brainer to me…which current Brit rider is able to ride at the level Lizzie needs on a course as hilly and hard as Rio? Cooley annihilated the women (and most of the men) in the Alpe triathlon which climbed three serious cols. She is an elite athlete in every sense of the word – no disrespect to current Brit women – particularly Nikki Harris but no one has ridden at the level Pooley has and if she says she can be fit I’m sure she can be.

  • John Smith

    She was invited by British Cycling. Rio has a tough hilly road course, ideally suited for a climber like Emma Pooley. Endurance will not be a problem for her, she just needs to work on top end power.

  • graham

    How can Emma Pooley move straight back into a GB jersey after two years away from cycling. Could it be that her interest in cycling has been re-kindled by the fact that Duathlon is not part of the Olympics