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Emma Pooley smashes world duathlon field in first race

The former pro cyclist who retired last month finished 30 minutes ahead of nearest rival

Former British pro cyclist Emma Pooley has won her debut duathlon, the 2014 Powerman World Championships, breaking the course record and beating the field by half an hour in the process.

The 31-year old rode for professional women’s cycling team Lotto Belisol Ladies before retiring in August and announcing her desire to focus her professional sporting efforts on her mult-sport career.

Other than expressing a love for running, the 2010 UCI time trial world champion did not give other reasons, specifically financial ones, for her change in focus, but in April she claimed that her triathlon "hobby" brought her in more money than professional cycling.

The world duathlon championships in the Swiss city of Zofingen, which Pooley won in 6 hours, 47 minutes and 27 seconds, over 32 minutes ahead of second placed Swedish athlete Eva Nystrom, is the sport’s premier event, and offers the same prize money for men and women.

$50,000 is split between the top ten finishers, with each winner recieving $6,250.

Duathlons incorporate two stints of running, one of the Cambridge University graduate’s first sporting loves, with one stint of cycling, differentiating themselves from triathlons by omitting the swimming leg.

In the case of the Powerman Zofingen, the event that Pooley told the BBC she’s wanted to take part in for many years, the course covered a 10km run, a 150km ride, a 30km run to finish.

The transition from pro cyclist to world duathlon champion hasn’t been easy, she says, but Pooley’s success in two of the three triathlon disciplines could bode well for her future plans.

"I love running as well as cycling and the course was very hilly which definitely suited me.

"But as a professional cyclist, I could never do [the Powerman Zofingen], because it's only a couple of weeks before the UCI World Championships and that's simply too short a time to recover.

"I thought it would be a good test of my new challenge of trying to race professional triathlon! But I only had about a month to do some hard run training after the Commonwealth Games, so I was concerned that I wouldn't survive the running.

"But I think that sometimes if you love something enough, you can put up with a bit of suffering! I really love running - and actually I think I run better off the bike than fresh, relative to other people.”

Though Pooley has moved away from cycling in a competitive capacity, she will maintain her position on cycling’s world governing body, in the UCI’s women’s commission.

An advocate for equality in women’s sport and inclusion in cycling, Pooley was instrumental in bringing the La Course women's to the streets of Paris and in the expansion of the the get-women-cycling programme, Breeze.

"It's a positive time for the sport. I'm really happy to see it improving. La Course is the start of something great, and I hope it will grow next year; I'd love to see a longer women's stage race in France," Pooley said.

"The Breeze rides are a great way for women to try out cycling in a no-pressure, friendly environment.

"Cycling can be a daunting sport, especially when you're new to it - I can remember when I started I didn't know what kit to wear, how to stay warm enough, or that there are saddles out there that can make cycling so much less painful!

"Whether you want to cycle to commute, for fun, for fitness, or to get into racing - these rides are a great way to get started and develop a regular cycling routine.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can get involved in women’s cycling, visit the British Cycling Breeze website, here.

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