Commonwealth Games coverage
Published: 31 July 2014
Written by: Eddie Allen
Image: Alex Broadway/SWPix.com
England’s Emma Pooley won silver in the Commonwealth Games time-trial in a thrilling encounter against Linda Villumsen of New Zealand.
Pooley, in her last competitive time-trial before transitioning into triathlon, led for much of the race before a strong finish by Villumsen denied Pooley the fairy-tale ending.
Scotland’s Katie Archibald was also locked in a medal battle for bronze, in third for the opening two sectors before being overhauled in the final stages to finish fifth.
Riders faced challenging conditions as they left Glasgow Green for 30-kilometres against the clock, intermittent rain making the going treacherous.
The hilly course left the city to the north east for a loop in the countryside of North Lanarkshire and East Dumbartonshire before descending back through the East End to finish at Glasgow Green.
At the first check Pooley had already showed her class, the 2010 world time-trial champion a second faster than Delhi silver medallist Linda Villumsen of New Zealand.
Australia’s Shara Gillow was third fastest at the first check, just ahead of Scotland’s Katie Archibald who was keen to add to the bronze medal she won in the points race.
At the second check at 17-kilometres Pooley was still fastest, with Villumsen just 1.3 seconds back, with over 30 seconds back to Archibald, who had overhauled Gillow and climbed into a bronze medal position.
The 23-kilometre check came and Pooley had increased her advantage, eight seconds ahead of Villumsen while Archibald continued to edge the battle for bronze. But with the descent into Glasgow to come, Pooley had to stay on the gas to keep ahead of the heavier and more powerful Kiwi.
Into Glasgow Green for the finish and Pooley drove for the line, knowing that a single mistake on the technical finish could cost her gold. Across the line and Pooley stopped the clock at 42:31.49, beginning an anxious wait for Villumsen to appear on the finish straight.
But in the end Pooley was denied the dream end to her time-trialling career, Villumsen clocking 42:25.46 to take the Commonwealth gold that has so long evaded her.
Archibald too slipped back in the final sector to finish in fifth place behind Katrin Garfoot who took bronze for Australia and Jaime Nielsen of New Zealand.
Wales’ Elinor Barker was seventh ahead of Scotland’s Lucy Coldwell and Anna Turvey.
Wales’ Amy Roberts was 12th, one place ahead of Joanna Rowsell who had said earlier in the week that her major Glasgow 2014 aims lay on the track.
After the race Pooley spoke to BBC Sport.
"It was close but I'm happy to be on the podium, there was nothing I could have done any better,” said Pooley.
“It was tough in the wet, especially in the corners. I slipped out once and after that I was a bit cautious.
"I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to compete for so long, and am grateful to those who have supported me over the past seven or eight years. To get a medal today tops everything."
Following the ride Katie Archibald reflected on her performance.
"I enjoyed the middle section with the lumps and the twists - that's what I love to ride but I just lost it on the long drags.
"It's a mental thing, I knew that's what I was going to struggle with and I know that I was going along thinking 'try harder, try harder'.
"If that finishing straight had been a kilometre further I could have properly emptied myself. I'm pretty annoyed I've not done that."
England's Joanna Rowsell summed-up her ride to BBC Sport, the 2013 British time-trial champion admitting that the individual pursuit had always been her goal.
"It was tough, we practised the course yesterday and the wind was very strong," said Rowsell.
"Today was less windy but the rain poured down at the start, then was stopping and starting.
"I gave it my best but there you go. I was always targeting the track gold rather than two bronzes and that paid off. But it was a good experience and it's been good supporting Emma Pooley in the village this week."