Colombia World Cup

November 22, 2011

Nettie Edmondson at the Colombia World Cup November 2011

[box type=”shadow”] This was my first experience at a senior world cup – and I came back wanting more. I learnt so much from the racing and found a whole, new confidence in myself. It was such a satisfying relief to come back feeling competitive – particularly in the scratch race, feeling as though I have what it takes to win at world level providing I make the right tactical decisions.

[/box]

My world cup debut began with the Team Pursuit Qualifying. I was selected to ride the qualifying round, alongside teammates Josephine Tomic and Sarah Kent. The start order was to be Josie, Sarah and then myself in third wheel. I feel that the person in third wheel has the least pressure, as the team is up to speed by the time they hit the front for their first turn, so this was a nice position to be in for my first Team Pursuit at world level. I had been a little ‘toey’ at training; a phrase given to someone who comes through a little hard during their turn instead of keeping a constant pace – usually due to nerves. I didn’t see this as too much of a negative because I wasn’t dropping the pace, instead feeling good enough to raise it (albeit unintentionally!) Due to this, my main focus was to make sure my laps were even, so as not to change the pace for my teammates to allow for a smoother ride.

Our trials leading up to the Team Pursuit were brilliant! We were on fire. We were doing great times and came into the race with high expectations. I thought we were going to qualify for gold and silver. But things didn’t quite work out that way. The race went ok. Just ok. It was relatively smooth, but we didn’t go nearly as fast as we’d hoped to. Our second kilometre was poor, which was unusual for us and our third kilometre wasn’t much better. We qualified fifth, and just missed out on the ride-off for third and fourth by three-hundredths of a second. The Kiwi’s qualified first, two seconds faster than us. That was extremely disappointing, considering we had come in with such high hopes.

On a personal level, my ride was good. I had held the pace and had done all four of my lap-turns. I hadn’t been ‘toey’ and our coach was satisfied with my first ride at world-cup-level. That was nice to know, but we didn’t go to Colombia to get fifth.

The next day I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to ride the scratch race for Australia. I had ultimately hoped to ride the Omnium, however this spot was given to Melissa Hoskins. This, once again reduced the pressure upon my shoulders for my first world-class bunch race, so I again saw it as a positive. (I hope to be able to ride the Omnium at the London World Cup instead).

A view from our pits of the sold-out crowd. Notice the roof with no walls?

 

The scratch race heat was in the afternoon session at 4pm. After a short roller session in the morning, I made my way out to the track in the humidity of Cali, as the thunderstorms brewed overhead. (The thunderstorms over the top of a wall-less velodrome provided for quite the ambiance whilst racing!) I had been “prepped” on the tactical side of racing the scratch race and was warned that this would be like no other I had done. Needless to say I was nervous, yet excited at the same time. I was prepared for a fight and was keen to give it my best shot.

I didn’t need to worry too much. The scratch race heat was very ‘relaxed’ for a scratch race, as people weren’t too interested in attacking, in order to save as much energy as possible for the final that night. One girl however, attacked individually and managed to take a lap on the field which didn’t interest many of the others in the bike race as there were still 9 more spots left for people to qualify in. I spent most of the race following wheels and tried to get the ‘hang’ of this type of racing. To my surprise, I felt wonderfully comfortable. It didn’t feel new at all and I felt in control. At three laps to go, I found myself towards the back of the field, knowing that if I stuffed up my positioning now, it could mean not making the qualification for the final. I jumped out of the saddle and gave it a good sprint to get around the majority of the field. My plan was to come back into the group at about fifth or sixth wheel and use those in front to take me to the finish, however I found my sudden increase of speed much faster than that of the group, ending up sailing to the front of the bunch, alongside a French girl. I backed off my speed and held that position till the finish, feeling reasonably comfortable. Not only had qualified for the final, but I had come out with great confidence. I felt fit, and ready to give it a good shot in the final that night.

 

I went into the final with confidence. I knew that my competitors wouldn’t have pushed themselves too hard in the heat, but I felt relaxed and knew what I needed to do. I ultimately hoped that the race would come down to a sprint, but I knew that many of my opposition were going to try anything they could to ensure it didn’t come down to one. The speed was on from the start, it was a lot faster than the heat, with a lot more attacks. I was working hard and was doing all I could to stay up near the front. The race seemed like it was taking forever! I looked at the scoreboard and it showed 18 to go; just over halfway through the 40-lap scratch race final. I told myself to relax, forget about the lap counter and settle into the race. A break of 5 girls escaped from the bunch and got a third of a lap gap on the rest of the field. I worked with a Canadian and a few others to try and reduce this gap, but we still had a bit to go. I thought we had plenty of time to bridge the gap, so I wasn’t worried about the gap this early on. But I thought wrong. In telling myself to forget about the lap counter, I’d become completely absorbed by the breakaway and what was happening in the race. I took a hard turn on the front, swung up and moved about 10 to 15 places back in the bunch. As we were riding along the back straight I heard a bell ring for the leading riders on the front straight. My initial thought was “There aren’t meant to be sprint laps in a scratch race!!!” …but then it dawned on me. I’d completely forgotten to check the lap counter. We were coming up to our last lap and I was 15 people back in the bunch, with a breakaway of five ahead. I was fuming!! I jumped out of the saddle and did what I could to make up any placings I could, but it was too late. Not only had I thrown away my last opportunity to bridge across to the group with whatever energy I had left, but I’d moved so far back in the bunch that I stuffed up the bunch sprint too. I finished in 13th place.

 

I was so angry at myself. I’d been given such a wonderful opportunity to ride the scratch race at the World Cup. I was fit and I wanted to go out there and have a crack. I came off the track feeling as if I hadn’t given it everything and I just wanted another shot. I have never lost track of laps in a race before- I couldn’t believe it. My only thinking was that perhaps the stress/nerves/inexperience of my first World Cup really did get to me. Mentally as opposed to physically. I feel that I must have become too absorbed in the moment, by the racing, the crowd and the environment. Although extremely disappointed, I did come away with confidence. I felt competitive in the race and as though I was really mixing it with those girls. I really did have such a great experience and came back wanting more.

 

The Colombia World Cup was an amazing trip for me. Although I didn’t come home with the results I’d wanted, I really got a taste of something special. I felt like I held my own and that I’d impressed a few people with my rides. I really hope to be given another crack at the London World Cup, but I’m going to have to work hard to gain selection for that team at the track camp and Track National Championships to be held throughout January. Fingers crossed!!

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.

Read More...