Words by Owen Rogers
Repeated and concerted attacks from Britain’s Emma Pooley earned her plaudits and the day’s combativity award in Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour.
Having initially attacked after the first classified climb, she was away for the majority of the undulating 87-kilometre stage.
At first the former world time trial champion rode on her own but was joined by others in two other notable moves that gained an advantage over the peloton.
“I was in all the breaks, when I was on my own the cooperation was really good!” she joked. “With Lisa Brennauer [Specialized-Lululemon] we were both working hard, but we were caught by a bigger group and it didn’t happen.
“When the peloton caught us another group of six of us went and we were all working except for Annamiek [Van Vleuten] from Rabo-Liv. No one expected her to work because Marianne [Vos, her team-mate] is in yellow, but the five of us worked pretty well. I think we knew were were likely to get caught, but that’s part of bike racing, it happens.
“I’ve tried to be aggressive every day. I tried yesterday, but maybe today suited small breaks and attacks better because of the narrow lanes and the up and down nature of the course.
“Obviously I’m not doing very well in the race in terms of results, but for me you can still use a race to get better, or as training. It’s hard work when you’re off the back and it’s hard work if you’re off the front, but being off the front is definitely better mentally.”
The 31-year-old is targeting the Giro d’Italia at the beginning of July, but admitted: “I need to get some racing under my belt, I know I don’t feel quite up there yet.”
Her next races will be in Spain, the one day Durango-Durango followed by the four-stage Emakumeen Euskal Bira, both in northern Spain. The latter of which she described as “a bit bumpier [than the Women’s Tour], but the same weather.”
Sunday’s final stage of the race finishes in Bury St Edmunds, an hour away from Norwich, where Pooley grew up as a child.
Andy Jones presents a selection of images from the fourth stage of the inaugural Friends Life Women's Tour
Race leader Marianne Vos increases her advantage at the top of the overall classification with a second stage win