Gabby Durrin retires…
In a blog post on the website of Neon Velo, British cyclist Gabby Durrin has announced she is bringing her 13-year professional career to an end, saying that the effort of running the Neon Velo team – which she created with husband Jeremy Durrin – has left her feeling burnt out. She also talks movingly about her battles with depression.
“Professional cycling is not an easy journey, especially for a woman. Most women do the sport for the love of it. We are passionate about it and put our heart and soul into it. It is not the most lucrative profession to be in and so we do it because we truly love it and have the drive to succeed and be our very best.”
Like many female cyclists, Gabby began cycling purely to maintain fitness for another sport, running, and in her blog post she describes how “Professional cycling is not an easy journey, especially for a woman,” and how she was first bitten by the cycling bug when encouraged by her sister to join VC Lincoln after being taken to see the Lincoln GP by her grandfather, who was himself a successful cyclist. Yet her skills and competitive drive saw her achieve numerous superb results, including podium finishes at some of the most prestigious ‘cross races in the world. She is best known for her palmares in that sport, but also enjoyed success in mountain biking (she was Welsh National Champion twice) and on road.
“I am very happy to be moving on to the next chapter in my life. I have been racing professionally for the past 13 years, and they were the most amazing years of my life,” she explains on her Facebook page. Neutral Service wishes her all the best for the future.
…but Emma Pooley’s coming out of retirement for Rio!
Meanwhile, Emma Pooley – who stepped back from top-level cycling during 2013 to become Dr. Pooley by gaining her PhD in geotechnical engineering, then returned to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before announcing her retirement (and then became World Duathlon Champion) – is due to return to cycling in time for the 2016 Olympics.
With places on the British Olympic team limited, the decision to give Pooley a place may be criticised as unfair if it’s seen as taking a place that might have been given to a younger rider. However, Pooley is a pure climber, one of only three world-class pure climbers produced by Britain, and is likely the only British rider capable of supporting Lizzie Armitstead throughout the entirety of the hilly Women’s Road Race (as she did in 2012, when she assisted the current World Champion to silver behind Marianne Vos, and in Beijing when she supported Nicole Cooke’s gold-winning ride).
The London-born 33-year-old will not be in Rio purely to support other riders: in common with many other riders able to claim to be among the best grimpeurs in the sport’s history, she is an exceptional time trial athlete – she has been National TT Champion three times and won the ITT stages in a number of events including the Grande Boucle, also known as the Tour de France Feminin, which she won outright the final time the race was held in 2009. Once again, with numerous younger riders keen to ride, her presence in the ITT may be criticised, but once again she is one of a limited number of British athletes able to race at this level. With victories in both duathlon and triathlon continuing throughout the time since the Commonwealth Games, she may – like Armitstead – be one of our best chances for gold, and as we’e seen with track cycling Olympic medals bring in sort of funding that younger riders need to be able to develop their own skills so that they can take on the best the rest of the world has to offer in 2020.