Emma Pooley (Bigla Cycling Team) – Tour Languedoc victory
Former world time trial champion and Olympic silver medallist Pooley stepped back from UCI racing in 2013 as she bid to focus on her doctorate studies and also try her hand – successfully – in triathlon and ironman events. However, despite only competing in three UCI races during the season, the 31-year-old former national champion still managed to impress with a number of strong performances in her debut year for the non-UCI registered Bigla Cycling Team.
Pooley finished third overall at the 2.2-ranked Gracia Orlova, thanks to a consistent ride throughout and a strong performance in the mountains, and followed it up with a hugely impressive overall victory at the Tour Languedoc Roussillon in May. The tough six-stage race in France was shrouded in chaos after being cancelled, and then reinstated without its first stage, prompting Boels-Dolmans and Rabobank Liv-Giant to withdraw.
Pooley and Bigla remained however, and on the rolling third stage into Camurac, the Englishwoman burst away from an elite group of climbers – including five-time Giro Donne winner Fabiana Luperini – to solo to stage victory. It moved her into the overall lead, and after consolidating that lead with second place in the penultimate day’s individual time trial, she held on to secure overall victory. Pooley then went on to win two stages at the Czech Tour de Feminin to finish second overall.