Four years ago Alexander Edmondson was a fresh faced 18-year-old heading to his first major international cycling event at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Australia's team pursuit squad. Ultimately Edmondson wouldn't turn a pedal in anger in London but has since become a key member of the team pursuit squad and is gunning for gold in Rio this August.
Now 22, Edmondson has an individual pursuit rainbow jersey, two team pursuit rainbow jerseys and a Commonwealth Games gold medal from the team pursuit in 2014. Gold in Rio would complete the set.
"Depending on how we go in Rio, if all goes well I'll probably be done with the track as for me the only thing I am missing in my goals and dreams is a certain gold medal. To be able to call yourself an Olympic champion, not many people get to call themselves that, so that's what has been getting me out of bed," Edmondson told Cyclingnews during a short break in Australia before heading to Arizona for the men's endurance track camp.
At the time, Edmondson described watching his pursuit teammates finish second in the London gold medal final on the Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome as a lowlight in his career that left him at the cross-roads, contemplating his future. With hindsight, the experience has made him a stronger character and driven him to improve each and every time he saddles up as he explained.
"Ever since I went to London I had a point to prove. At the time, I thought London could be the worse thing that's ever happened to me but now, it's one of the best things that could have happened," he said. "Even though I made it to London, I didn't actually get a ride, I remember to this day the conversation I had with my sister on the couch saying 'It's either I give up now and I tried, or every day that I get on the bike it's proving a point' and by the time Rio comes around I get on that track and prove I deserve to ride.
"Now I look at it as the best thing that could have happened. Everyday that I get on a bike there is more motivation to strive to be better."
Just as in London, Edmondson's older sister Annette is also targeting gold in the team pursuit, however the siblings won't be seeing much of each other in the build up.
"It's interesting to be able to share the moment with your sister. With us, we have the opportunity have two of us, we both haven't made selection yet but fingers crossed on the 27th we find out we are in the team we can start celebrating and realise we are working towards the gold. For the moment, it's just trying to put every foot forward," he said.
"It's funny, I actually won't see my sister until the games if we make it. I won't see my sister from when I first left for Europe at the start of April until we are actually in the village in the start of August. Even though we may be in the same team, riding for the same country, I won't see her for about six months in the build up the games."
While the Olympic Games have been the number objective for Edmondson, it's also his first season in the WorldTour with Orica-GreenEdge. Making his European debut with the team at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Edmondson missed the Track Worlds in London as a result, and prior to his two-week break in Australia had completed a block of racing with his trade team and the U23 Australian WorldTour Academy team.
"Missing out on Track Worlds was pretty hard to take, even though I have different goals and needed to work towards the road and fulfil some of those commitments. Especially seeing the young guys go in there and come away with the result like they did, you always want to be a part of it," he said. "For me, it was a little bit different to sit out of the World Championships and spend a bit of time on the road which I really enjoyed and to get to know my Orica-GreenEdge team and see the support that those guys have given me in the help to get to Rio was a bit of an eye opener to see the differences between the U23 and pro ranks but I really enjoyed it."
During the racing with Orica-GreenEdge, Edmondson's best results came at the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg with three top-ten results. Performances he's keen to repeat later in the season when he switches back to the road.
"Post Olympics you'll see me back on the road in Europe but at this stage I am not exactly sure which races they are. After Rio it's all about getting the head in the right place and focusing on the goals for 2017," said Edmondson, adding a second Tour Down Under appearance on home soil is already a goal for next season.
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Zeb Woodpower is the Australian editor at Cyclingnews. Based in Sydney, Zeb provides an Australian perspective on the sport with articles ranging from the local to the global . He joined Cyclingnews in 2013.