Today Emma Pooley won the Tour de l'Aude (the second biggest stage race for the women's peloton), after an incredible month, where she's won 3 1.1 rated races against the best competition in the world.
Emma has always been a star - previously a mountain goat climber par excellence, and Time Trial genius, bringing home a silver in the 2008 Olympics for GB, as well as doing a superb job to help Nicole Cooke win the Road Race. But since joining Cervélo, she's been just getting better and better.
So, what has she won recently?
At the start of May she won the GP de Suisse, a 1.1 categorised Time Trial comp that's held as part of the Tour of Romandie, and then in the same week went on to win the GP Elsy Jacobs, a 1.1 day race, held as part of the Luxembourg festival of women's cycling. This was just a week after she won the Fleche Wallone Feminine, which is part of the women's road World Cup series, held on the same course as the men's FW (with some modifications), and Emma jumped on the final climb of the Mur de Huy, solo-ing to a victory ahead of Nicole Cooke in 2nd and the rest of the stars of the women's race.
The Tour de l'Aude is a 10-day race with lots and lots of Pyrenean madness. Emma was involved in a lot of breakaways in the mountains, winning one of the toughest stage in a 2-woman breakaway with Mara Abbott, American mountain goat extraordinaire (only a few days before the same pair had escaped, where Emma had been 2nd to Mara). It's definitely been a most worthy win - she ended up well over 4 mins ahead of her nearest rival, Mara Abbott (riding from Team USA - Swede Emma Johansson of RedSun ended up in 3rd place). Emma's the first British rider to ever win this race - I can't stress how good a result this is!
One of the things I love about Emma especially is her self-deprecation, absolute appreciation of her team (Cervélo, who have ridden a blinder for her - and with Brit stars Sharon Laws also getting into crazed breaks, and Lizzie Armitstead winning a stage - as well as Regina Bruins winning the prologue and Cervélo winning the TTT). Gavia from Podium Café has a superb interview with her here, that she did between the FW and GP de Suisse:
I'm also impressed with how much she's worked over the off-season. She's always been an amazing climber and TTer, but in the past she's been the first to say her descending lets her down (think Frank Schleck) - and she's pretty much been allergic to the peloton. But this year she's clearly been working on that so hard - and the results are there to back that up.
She's just a star - and looking ahead we are coming up to some majorly hilly races - Emakumeen Bira Iurreta in the Basque Country and Giro del Trentino in Italy next month - followed by the biggest stage race of the year, the Giro Donne in Italy in July, so here's to her winning streak continuing.
We've been talking about Tour de l'Aude in Skip's fabulous thread here: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A68190... and following the women's racing this month here: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A67512... if you'd like to know more, or have any questions, please don't be shy, ask here! I've been asking ridiculous questions about the women's race for months, so happy to share the answers!