Hayley Simmonds (AeroCoach) has admitted her surprise at becoming the women’s national time trial champion for the second successive year by more than 30 seconds from her nearest challenger, Claire Rose (Podium Ambition).
Simmonds stormed around the 34.8km course in Stockton-on-Tees on Thursday in a time of 47:33.36, almost 33 seconds quicker than Rose, with her teammate Dame Sarah Storey six seconds back.
“I thought it was going to be close, and I think it was close until the turn on the last lap when I somehow managed to push out my lead,” Simmonds, who recently left her American professional team United Healthcare because of problems with her time trial bike, told Cycling Weekly.
“It was the same as last year [at Lincoln] – I thought I would be on the podium and it would be close and it was the same this year. It wasn’t quite as close as I thought [it would be], but I’ll take it.”
Pooley has temporarily halted her triathlon career in favour of pursuing a gold medal at Rio in August, and despite her unconvincing form at the Aviva Women’s Tour, she was still regarded as favourite in Stockton, where a victory would have been her fourth.
“Obviously Emma is an incredible athlete and she has been for years, but she’s not been focusing just on cycling but I knew if Emma was back on top of her game, she would be hard to beat,” Simmonds admitted.
“I thought Claire was going to be my toughest competition on this course because she’s good at the corners and is good on the out-and-back drag sections. I was getting time checks on Claire and Emma so those were the two I was worried about.”
For Pooley, failure to step onto the podium left her downbeat but she noted that the flat course was befitting of her qualities.
She said: “I’m disappointed today but if you look at the course it didn’t suit my strengths. But you race the course they put to you.
“I did my best and didn’t win. I would have liked to have won. I went out and rode my hardest. I know I’m not properly time trial fit yet so it wasn’t that big of a surprise not to win.
“It’s a good sign of standard of women cycling in the UK. Credit to Hayley Simmonds, Claire and Sarah – great rides.”