Nettie Edmondson is one of a series of strong riders that Wiggle High5 will showcase as the road season kicks off at the Santos Women’s Tour on Thursday in Australia. The 26-year-old from the nearby city of Aldgate hopes the team can use their sprint cards during the flatter stages.
"We have got a bit of a sprint squad," Edmondson said. "We haven't had much of a chat about who will be doing what. We'll have a few cards to play, especially on stage 1 and stage 4, which will be the more sprinter stages."
Wiggle High5 have brought powerful sprinters in Edmondson, who won stage 2 during the 2016 edition, along with the reigning Scratch Race world champion Rachele Barbieri, who was on the podium in a stage last year.
The Santos Women's Tour opens with a circuit that starts and finishes in Gumeracha, and though there is a climb on route, the stage is expected to be a fast one. The four-day event will end on stage 4 with a fast circuit race through Adelaide.
"I'm really excited for a home race," Edmondson said. "We spend all year racing in Europe so it's a really nice opportunity to race in front of home crowds, and on my training roads because I live in Aldgate which is 5km away from Hahndorf [stage 3 finish].
"I do a lot of these roads in my training; Amy [Cure] and I do a lot of rides up to Gumeracha and back, so we do know the circuits. We're now starting to get more familiar with the circuit in the city - the sprint stage - as well."
Edmondson and Barbieri will be joined by Macey Stewart and Japanese champion Eri Yonamine, who both make their debut with the team, along with returning riders Amy Cure and French time trial champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot.
"None of the Wiggle High5 team raced, so we don't necessarily know how everyone's going; we don't know how the Europeans are going, and how they've been training over the winter.
"We've got Eri, Rachele and Macey as newcomers to the team. The Tour Down Under's always a bit of a mix as to results and also team gelling, so I'm really looking forward to getting to know these girls. Rachele has done the Tour Down Under before, and she was podium last year, so she's excited to be back. She's a big powerful sprinter, as are a couple of other girls in the team."
There are two new hilly stages that include a hilltop finish on Mengler's Hill on stage 2 and a climb up Comet Mine just before concluding in Hahndorf on stage 3. They will likely suit Cordon-Ragot and Yonamine.
"Stage 2 is a hill climb finish so, depending on what form Audrey's in, it could be a good one for her," Edmondson said. "Also stage 3 has a real power climb with about three kilometres to go, and that's going to be an interesting one, so if any sprinters can get over that then they're doing a great job, but if not then it could also be one for the small breakaway riders.
"So the race is a bit of an unknown, but also an exciting one and I'm really looking forward to it yet again."
Wiggle High5 roster for the Santos Women's Tour: Rachele Barbieri (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Amy Cure (Australia), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Macey Stewart (Australia), Eri Yonamine (Japan)