“I’ve missed it this year, especially not being at the big races when you hear what happened and who won,” Emma Pooley has said.
Pooley, the 2010 world time trial champion, took a step back from the pro peloton this year as she worked on completing her PhD in geotechnical engineering, which she began studying for in 2005.
With that now all but complete, the 31-year-old Switzerland-based rider is able to refocus on racing, and was last month confirmed as one of Lotto-Belisol’s riders for 2014.
“It’ll be nice to do a full season of racing without having something else on the side,” she says. “I should be able to get more sleep before races, too!”
Just don’t call this a comeback. Even though she scaled back racing commitments in 2013, Pooley still managed to win the six-stage Tour Languedoc Roussillon in France last May, one of four UCI-ranked victories.
“It wasn’t as if I retired or had a sabbatical – I still raced. I was surprised with how I did, considering the circumstances,” said Pooley.
“It’s good knowing that I can focus on one thing for a full year next year. I’ll be able to plan things better because I know I’ll be in control of my schedule, and not tied down by looming deadlines and work.”
Due to spending time completing her thesis, she confessed that a 120km ride at the start of November was the longest ride she’d completed since July.
Yet Pooley hasn’t been short of exercise. Last month she won the Lausanne Marathon, with her run of 2-44-29 among the 20 fastest British female times this year.
“That means some people are 15 minutes faster than I am,” she said, in a typical self-effacing manner.
“Marathons are like time trials: if they’re easy you’re not going fast enough!”
Pooley plans to mix her racing schedule with triathlon events in 2014, and she hopes to ride the Women’s Tour, which starts in Northamptonshire on May 7.
“It’s great there will be TV coverage, it will be a real spectacle in the same way the men’s race is, and it sounds like towns were battling to host the race. That wouldn’t have happened a few years ago,” she said.
The original version of this article appeared in the November 14 2013 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.