It’s been a long time between drinks at the Subaru National Road Series (NRS) for Alex Edmondson. Fresh off the London Olympics, Edmondson stepped from track to road at last year’s Tour of Tasmania and has been waiting to get back on Australian roads ever since.
Between NRS tours Edmondson has been racking up world championship titles on the track in Poland and gaining vital experience on the road in Europe and Asia. Having returned to Australia only last Thursday, Edmondson believes it’s jet lag that he has to worry about first and foremost.
"Well I’m not sure how I’m going at the moment to be honest," he told Cyclingnews. "I've been on the track, and I've only just got back from overseas and I'm still struggling to sleep at night with the jet lag."
The team pursuit World Champion is hoping that if his track legs don’t perform as he should hope, he is more than ready to work for one of his Euride Racing (Euride) teammates.
"I'm going there either for myself or to help the team," Edmondson said. "It’s going to be one of those ones where we will go in with some objectives and hopefully we can come out with some stages here or there or someone up high on the GC."
In terms of competition, Edmondson is wary of the usual suspects, but believes that the field assembled deserves a lot of respect:
"As we’ve seen in the last few rounds, Huon-Genesys are going very strong and Drapac aren’t coming so that’s one less team," he stated. "But it’s one of those things, with [teams like] Budget you can’t just say there are only a couple of teams out there. Heaps of people have been putting their hands up so you can’t rule out anyone."
The hallmark of a successful team in the NRS is one with many cards to play. In 2011, Huon-Genesys was able to spread their success with Steele Von Hoff claiming countless stages and Nathan Haas performing a near clean sweep of general classifications. In 2012, Drapac shared the load between comeback kids Will Walker and Darren Lapthorne and mountain bike convert Lachlan Norris.
In the overall picture, the Tour of Gippsland is only a small card in Edmondson’s pack. With bigger games in mind, however, it may yet prove to be a trump:
"For me this is all starting the base before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. But I think it will be awesome for my base and my development for the later part of the year."
And with these bigger goals in mind, it’s the style of racing we will see this week that will play in Edmondson’s favour.
"It’s pretty good with the short, sharp racing [at Gippsland] and it’s great to have this sort of racing in Australia. We’re just hoping that the weather will be good to us and it’s not bucketing down rain and freezing cold! "
With diplomatic prose comes the expectation that a rider is playing down his chances. Given Edmondson’s hectic schedule over the last 18 months, that would be entirely justified. But for this 19-year-old another race means another chance to win. Despite a lack of sleep and a lack of road kilometres, Edmondson lacks no ambition. He is here to race.
"Of course I'm not just going there to putt along and be in the bunch, I’ve got a number on my back, I want to win!"