Emma Pooley starts the Grande Boucle stage race in France today (Thursday), riding for the powerful Cervélo team led by defending champion Christiane Soeder of Austria.
The four-day race (the women’s edition of the Tour de France) starts with a difficult 18.3-kilometre individual time trial in Bressuire, in western France, today.
Pooley, silver medallist in the time trial at the Olympic Games last summer and winner of the Montreal World Cup, may prefer a hillier route to the rolling, power course in front of the riders.
“With Christiane Soeder set to defend her title at the Grande Boucle, our expectations are certainly high,” said Cervélo directeur sportif, Manel Lacambra.
“The girls have been doing very well and we look forward to their high level of performance continuing during the Grande Boucle and in Trentino.”
Friday’s second stage heads to Niort before a transfer south towards the Pyrenees. Saturday’s stage from Hagetmau to Pau is a warm-up for the spectacular finale.
Starting in Irun in the Spanish Basque Country, the 128-kilometre stage goes over the first-category Aito de Jaizkibel, which fans may know as the main climb of the San Sebastian Classic, and the Alto de Erlaitz before a string of third and fourth-category climbs on the run-in to Anglet.
Pooley is the only British rider in the 72-strong field. Soeder will again be among the favourites but the Cervélo team will have to watch for the Dutch rider Marianne Vos. Nicole Cooke, who won in 2006 and 2007 and was third last year, is not riding.
June 18, stage one: Bressuire, 18.3km TT
June 19, stage two: Bressuire-Niort, 62.5km
June 20, stage three: Hagetmau-Pau, 86.4km
June 21, stage four: Irun (Spain)-Anglet, 127km
Grand Boucle official website: www.velo-feminin.com/
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
Neah Evans and Charlie Tanfield take National track titles
Olympians put in strong performances on the first day of competition in Newport
By Vern Pitt • Published
A Call of a Life Time: YouTube docuseries chronicling the Life Time Grand Prix premiers tonight
The six-part series promises a 'binge-worthy' behind-the-scenes look into the off-road cycling world
By Anne-Marije Rook • Published