The 2018 season started in surprising fashion for Alex Edmondson. The 24-year-old won the national Australian title on the hilly Buninyong circuit arguably unsuited to his characteristics. But in doing so, he also continued the recent trend of track riders taming the famed mountain and opened his win account on the road.
The national title also started a full summer of racing with Mitchelton-Scott, minus the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, with Edmondson turning helper, despite the new stripes, to help teammates Daryl Impey at Tour Down Under, and Esteban Chaves at the Herald Sun Tour, to overall wins.
"To be able to tick off my first professional win, even though it was just the nationals, it wasn't a WorldTour race or the like but for me it is super special. I will be able to have green and gold on my sleeves," Edmondson recently told Cyclingnews.
Across the summer, Edmondson still managed to snare three top-ten results and with plenty of kilometres spent on the front of the peloton, his new jersey was far from anonymous in the peloton. At the Tour Down Under, Edmondson also showed off the national jersey in Stirling, the Adelaide Hills town where he grew up, and enjoyed a week of racing on home roads. It wasn't all easy going though with Edmondson on lead out duty for Caleb Ewan. While Edmondson isn't Ewan's usual last man, the duo have known each other since junior track days and are working on developing their relationship at WorldTour level.
"For me, it is doing the best that I can, I am the first to admit that I lack a bit of experience and I haven't been doing it for too long. It is about learning how to do it but also jumping into the deep end and doing my absolute best," Edmondson told Cyclingnews. "I know if I can get a bit of open road, I have the speed behind me and the power. It is all about self-belief but also learning. The team is very understanding knowing that I haven't had the experience and I am here to gain experience but also do a job.
"It is always good when you can work with Caleb. I have grown up with him since I was probably 15. We get on really well. At the same time as doing lead-outs, I still want to have the opportunity to go for some of the races in the classics for example. At the end of the day, I am happy to do whatever the team needs."
With Ewan lining out at the Abu Dhabi Tour this week, Edmondson heads to Belgium for the opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. An important duo of races for Edmondson who is aiming to build on his classics campaign of 2017 that included debuts at Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
A U23 Tour of Flanders winner ahead of Gianni Moscon in 2015, Edmondson was 25th on debut at 'De Ronde'. But is fully expecting to play a support role on the cobbles this autumn. And with time on his side, Edmondson is content to play the long game and learn from the likes of Mat Hayman and Matteo Trentin while the opportunity exists.
"I have shown I have some potential in Flanders and that sort of thing. I am not going rule out anything at the moment," he said. "I have the best guys to learn off with Matty Hayman in the team and also with Trentin coming in as well. It is really exciting to see what we are capable of this year. I will be going there in a support role but sometimes the best way to learn is to learn off these guys."
When it comes to the classics, the lottery factory is a quality of the racing that Edmondson thoroughly enjoys as he added.
"With the classics, you never know what is going to happen. You can plan a million different ways but when you race it will probably happen the one way you didn't think of," he said. "That is what I enjoy about the classics. You really have to think. Last year at Paris Roubaix I managed to finish and I crashed twice and got a puncture but I actually did pretty well. Which is so weird to think about that I crashed twice, had a puncture and it wasn't too bad. That just shows that it is one hell of a race."
While Edmondson is focused on the northern European classics, he will also line out at the Commonwealth Games on the road for Australia in mid-April. The Commonwealth Games will be the first major international competition for the team pursuit squad since losing the gold medal final to Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games. A squad that Edmondson was part of and signalled the end for now of his track career. While Edmondson is looking to make his mark on the road, he is also isn't ruling out a return at some point to the velodrome to achieve his dream of a gold medal.
"Never say never. If you had asked me a couple of months ago I probably would have said no. I have always wanted to race a six-day so that is something I hopefully do one day," he said. "I always said on the track the one thing I wanted to do was to win Olympic gold. I got close but I didn't quite get there. It is a big difference being able to say you are a silver medallist compared to a gold medallist. For me, I've always wanted to be an Olympic champion. If you can say you are an Olympic champion than you've been able to achieve a fair bit in your life.
"I want to focus on the road and give it a real hot shot. At the moment, I won't be going there anytime soon but I won't be ruling it out."