Posted by Editoress on 05/31/09
Emma Pooley (Cervelo Test Team) became the first rider in the history of the Montreal Women's World Cup to literally lead the race from start to finish, with an amazing display of perseverance and power. The effort the Olympic sliver medalist put forth was apparent during the award ceremonies, when she almost had to be helped up the three steps to the stage, and grimaced while clambering onto the top spot on the podium. Emma Johansson (Swedish National) took a photofinish second place over Trixie Worrack (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung), and takes the leader's jersey from Marianne Vos (Ned), who did not attend. Erinne Willock (Webcor) was the only Canadian to make the final chasing group of ten, finishing eighth.
The 10 kilometre Montreal circuit is dominated by the three kilometre climb up Mont Royal on each of the 11 laps, however, it is not the only difficulty riders face in breakaways. The rough roads jar arms and shoulders, and make it very hard to find a smooth rhythm, and headwinds on sections make going it alone difficult. On the other hand, these obstacles, and the twisty turns through residential Outremont make mounting a organized chase difficult as well.
Pooley is well known for breaking away early - "Usually they let me hang out to dry for about 80 kilometres and they reel me in," she commented afterwards.
Not this time.
Barely a kilometre into the race, and the Brit was already 15 seconds up on a chase by Andrea Dvorak (Colavita Sutter Homes) and Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders), with the peloton seemingly disinterested. By the halfway point her lead was over two minutes to the chasers, and four minutes to the peloton. It wasn't until lap six that Nürnberger and Columbia-Highroad finally began to chase, which split the field and brought the core group down to under 30 riders.
The chasers were gobbled up by lap eight, but Pooley remained persistently out in front, and the gap was coming down very, very slowly, as the chase had difficulty getting organized. With two laps to go it was down to ten riders chasing, still at two minutes, and at the top of the Mont Royal climb on the last lap Pooley was virtually assured of victory, with 1:50 in hand.
Nevertheless, she said "I wasn't really sure that I had done it until I could see the finish line. I was very tired on the last lap, and you never know what can happen. This is really unexpected, really quite amazing."
For Willock, it was a pleasing performance. The 2008 Olympian has only competed in one previous race this season (Joe Martin), as she took some time off after the Olympics for school.
"Yes, I'm actually quite pleased. I didn't know what to expect, because these girls have a lot of racing, and I haven't done so much. It felt good out there, and I tried a little attack on the last lap, but couldn't get any ground. There were enough sprinters in the group that I knew my chances were pretty limited."