In 2017, Alex Edmondson's season will be based solely around the road. A new challenge for the 22-year-old who has balanced track and road ambitions in recent seasons with World, Commonwealth, and Olympic Games success in the velodrome.
Edmondson, who signed with Orica-BikeExchange from the 2016 season, built his season around the Olympic Games in Rio with the intention of making up for his London disappointment. The result was a repeat of 2012 with Great Britain beating the Australians in the team pursuit final. The race will be Edmondson's last race in the velodrome for some time, committing 100 percent to the road from 2017 as he explained to Cyclingnews at the team's Winery Ride event.
"At the moment, it is all about giving this road business a crack," Edmondson said. "Ever since I really started I have done road and track so I am really looking forward to just focusing on the road. To this date, I haven't really had a full road season because it has been interrupted by Commonwealth Games, or the Olympics, or injury. I am, touching wood, hoping I can get a solid road season in my legs and really get as much experience as I can from the team. I really want to start by putting my right foot forward and showing that maybe if I do have a future on the road it is not only about doing my job for my teammates but if there is a chance, to take it."
Although gold was the target in Rio and Australia ultimately fell short, Edmondson isn't leaving the track with any regrets, explaining there was nothing more the team could have done in the final.
"When you are at the Olympics, and you work for something so hard when you get there and come so close and you don't quite finish what your dreams are, what you have been planning for I don't even know how many years that's been the goal. Especially with London 2012 and the experience I happened to have," said Edmondson who didn't ride in London. "I think now, I look back and I can really sit there and think we did everything possible we could do. We came away with the silver medal and did everything we thought we could do. I am still pretty happy with the silver medal."
While the 2016 season was based around the track, Edmondson's race days on the road added up to 36 with the Tour of Britain and Eneco Tour post-Rio helping to boost his tally. Edmondson then brought the curtain down on his season at the World Championships in Doha, helping Orica-BikeExchange claim the bronze medal in the team time trial.
"To finish off the season in Doha was definitely a big mental challenge. I think everything that goes around with the Olympic games, it is not just the ride it is mental side as well," he said.
A former individual pursuit world champion, Edmondson has shown his ability against the clock on the road and also packs a fast sprint finish. While these are areas he is aiming to work on in his transition to the road, the spring classics is where Edmondson wants to shine.
In 2015, Edmondson became the first Australian to win the U23 Tour of Flanders, taking the victory ahead of Gianni Moscon (Team Sky), giving him a taste of victory on the cobbles. Edmondson has professed the Belgian monument is "the one I really want to win". However, he is anticipating the higher level of racing in the elite field and will place an emphasis on learning and soaking up everything as much as possible in the spring.
"It is going to be a long way between getting a good result. For me, the next few years is about getting experience. It is a completely different scene from racing the U23 to the seniors. It is like jumping into the deep end of the pool," he said. "I have a lot of work to do but I am looking forward to the experience and what better guy to have on your team than Mathew Hayman who won Paris-Roubaix."
Inspired by Stuart O'Grady becoming the first Australian to win the 'hell of the north' in 2007, Edmondson's teammate Hayman is now providing inspiration for Edmondson as he explained.
"You always dream of winning those kind of races and he is one of the nicest guys since I have joined the team as he has always been there, supporting me and giving me guidance. Of course seeing him go and win, it has definitely motivated me even more when I am lacking motivation," he said of the 2016 victory. "I watch that replay or the U23 Flanders and remember this is the reason I ride my bike, this is what it's all about. One day if you can say you won one of those races would be a dream come true and it's one of my biggest goals. I would be lying if I said it wasn't."
Along with the classics, Edmondson is placing a focus on his place in the lead out train for Caleb Ewan and helping his compatriot win as many races as possible.
"I have grown up with Caleb through the years in the juniors and done a few lead out for him here and there and I really get on well with him. I know he is one of the world's fastest sprinters and the whole future is literally his oyster. For me, if it works and he wants me to be there, then of course in the short term that is what I will be doing and if I can really nail the lead out I would be really happy," said Edmondson who is hoping to be leading out Ewan on home roads at the Tour Down Under in January.
"I know next year with a few of the signings the lead out train will get even stronger and more powerful. It's about working with the boys and really starting to nail the lead outs."
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