A whirlwind track season and it’s back to the road!

Pic by John Veague
May 2, 2014

Well it certainly has been a while since my last post! It’s now the 27th of April, 2014; track season has been and gone and I’m now in the camper on my way to the fourth race of my second European road season.

If I was to summarise my track season I’d say overall, it was slightly disappointing. I didn’t achieve the goal I had set out to achieve, however there were a couple of really special moments that I’d like to share with you.

The national omnium and madison*[see below]* championships were held in December. This was a momentous year for Australian women as it was the first year that the madison was recognised as a national event; it was no longer just for the men. To be blunt, the sport of cycling is sexist in a number of ways, including it’s opportunities presented to women. The madison is only an event for males at the world championships, as is the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games and there isn’t even an U23 world championship category for women despite there being one for men. If the International Cycling Union is going to change, it has to happen at a grassroots level, then it needs to be successful. This is why this event was so important for us. A number of cyclists and fans, led by Monique Hanley and members of cycling Victoria pushed to make the Australian Women’s Madison championships happen and sure enough, it did. It’s amazing what a bit of persistence can do!

I had the opportunity to ride in it alongside a great friend and training partner of mine, young Jessica Mundy. I had raced alongside Jess in countless road and track races, most of which she rode for me (in other words, sacrificed her own chance at a result to assist me in achieving a better result for the team.) A lot of people don’t often realise that not every cyclist who pulls on their lycra, who warms up and who heads out into the race is after the win themselves. There can only be one winner and on far too many occasions, Jess has been out there helping me. It is hard to pay back someone like that, someone who never complains and who you know gives absolutely everything in order to help you achieve your goals.

Despite feeling quite tired after competing in and winning the national omnium over the previous two days, I knew that this was my chance to give back to Jess and try and help her become a senior national champion for the first time. We we were up against race favourites, the West Australian pairing of Melissa Hoskins and Bella King, as well as strong teams from NSW and Tasmania. Jess and I had raced in two madisons together before, yet had struggled with timing, in regards to when to sling the other in leading up to a sprint. Throw someone in too early and that rider won’t have the energy to sprint, throw them in too late and they won’t have the speed or they could miss the ‘move’. This time, with help from coach Tim Decker on the infield, we got the timing right and we were off to a great start.

Things looked dire for a while there as Jess suffered a puncture 30 laps in and I was left to cover three turns on my own. I didn’t realise how hard it is to stay out there in the field with fresh opposing legs coming in. I was starting to tire and I couldn’t stay with the attack from the NSW pairing of Ashlee Ankudinof and 18-year-old Josie Talbot. Just as I started to question whether it was all over, Jess came back out and I slung her in. She took off like an ANIMAL! She bridged the gap in no time, then proceeded to accelerate away from our opposition. Seeing that determination and fire from my teammate changed my attitude completely. She wanted this and I wanted this. We were back in the game.

We got back into a rhythm, slinging me in for the sprints and Jess doing the hard work in between, covering moves and making attacks. There was one sprint to go and we were leading NSW by 2 points. If NSW won the final sprint, they would win on count back. WA would have to settle for third.

Jess slung me in with 2 laps to go and I managed to catch Talbot on the line. Jess Mundy and I had won. We were now Australia’s first ever women’s madison champions!

I have attached a photo of me crossing the line so you can see the look of satisfaction on my face. After 100 laps of pain, it had come down to the final sprint and we had taken it out. This was one of the most satisfying national titles I’ve won. It’s special to win a national title, but its even better to share it with someone who deserves it so much. Jess rode like a demon out there and it was so, so nice to see how much it meant to her. What was even better was hearing the roar from the crowd as we crossed the line. The ladies who lined up on that day had managed to put on a show, a show that excited the crowd and demonstrated that women can ride these events too! Yes, some of our swings/changes were a bit rusty but we can work on that! Just give us the opportunity 😉

Pic by John Veague

Winning the Australian Women’s Madison with Jessica Mundy

The national points race was an emotional win for me. I had to turn my body inside out in horrendous temperatures of 46° in order to win, and once again, it came down to the final sprint. I had luck on my side, and it wasn’t until I saw Lyle Baird, Helen Baird’s husband that I knew what that luck was.

Helen Baird, known to me and many others as Aunty Helen, was an incredible commissaire who dedicated so much of her life to our sport. She looked after the juniors and took each and every one under her wing. She passed away from cancer in January this year and her funeral was really hard for me to take. I had been away and didn’t get the chance to say good bye.

When I saw Lyle after my points race I knew it wasn’t just ‘luck’ that had helped me. Helen had been there with me and had helped me finish it off, in our home state, in front of our home crowd. Lyle presented me with my Australian jersey and I burst into tears. This was our good bye.

The rest of the track season was pretty good, but it didn’t really differ to that of 2013. I won four national titles, but I didn’t achieve the main goal I had set out to achieve. I wanted to be a world champion, but I fell short, in both events, again. I have competed at three track world championships, lined up in 7 events and have won 7 medals, but not one of them has been gold. So close, yet so far.

Our team pursuit was good, we rode well as a team but we just weren’t fast enough. My omnium was great, except for my points race. I lost a number of points there due to a silly decision, I contested the first two sprints and ran out of legs to take a lap with my opposition. I came away from Colombia with two bronze medals, an achievement I’m proud of, but not satisfied with. I had waited a year to fix my mistakes from 2013, yet will now have to wait until 2015 for another opportunity. It is a long time, but hey, that’s bike racing isn’t it?!

I had a good time in Colombia though, spending the 2014 Track World Championships with a great group of Australian athletes. I also had the opportunity to watch my own brother win his first individual world title. My 20-year-old brother, Alex is the best individual pursuit rider in the world! Crazy huh?!

I also got to watch my teammate (and roommate) Amy Cure smash up the Points Race and win a world title for the Australian track endurance women for the first time since 2010. That was a booster we needed in the team and it was so lovely to be able to celebrate it with her.

After we returned from Colombia, I took a well needed break in Indonesia with my best friend and fellow Australian teammate Steph Morton. It was my first holiday without my bike in 4 years, so we certainly came back feeling recharged and refreshed!

I spent a month at home getting back into the swing of things and tried desperately to find some road form before coming over to Europe to start my second road season with Orica-AIS. The hard thing to accept is that you can never be fully prepared for racing in Europe. It is bloody hard!

It is great to be back with the Orica-AIS girls though, they are such a welcoming group and really do make me feel at home. As long as you’re honest and try your absolute best to help the team, you will fit right in. It’s tough out there racing, but having a team like Orica-AIS out there with you makes a world of difference.

I now have four races under my belt, the cobwebs have certainly been blown out and so I’m hoping I can have a bigger impact within the team during the next block of racing, the Elsy Jacobs Tour of Luxembourg from May 2-4. There is a short prologue which suits me (I came 3rd last year) and two hillier road stages which will be tough. ..I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how we go!

Inaugural Australian Women’s Madison Champions!
Photo by John Veague

*A Madison is a long track endurance event where teams ride in pairs, taking turns to race individually around the track. One rider must ‘sling’ their partner in by the hand when their turn is over, then ride slowly around the top of the track until their partner catches them again and slings them back in for a second time. This continues for the rest of the race, one rider being ‘active’ at a time. There are also sprints every twenty laps for the active riders to compete in, with points awarded 5, 3, 2 and 1 to the first four riders across the line. If a team manages to lap the field, that is considered better than any number of points so they will take the win, with second going to the team who ends up on the same lap number with less points, or a lap down with the most amount of points.

Bio

Annette Edmondson (born 12 December, 1991 in Adelaide) is an Australian cyclist who races for the Australian Track Cycling Team.

Annette is a three-time World Champion, Olympic medallist and dual Commonwealth Games Champion.

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