• Annette Edmondson stands on the podium... perhaps for the last time at nationals (AusCycling/Con Chronis)Source: AusCycling/Con Chronis
Annette Edmondson (Australian Cycling Team) may have said her farewell to competitve road racing with a win at the Australian national criterium championships.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

5 Feb 2021 - 11:39 PM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2021 - 11:40 PM

It was a win like so many others the Australian cycling public has seen throughout the South Australian's career, bursting clear of the rest and unleashing her raw power to take an impressive victory ahead of young sprinting star Ruby Roseman-Gannon (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast).

Edmondson broke new ground on her career, winning the elite women's national criterium championships in the centre of Ballarat, fulfilling a long-term goal that had never quite come to fruition.

"I've come here a few times, always been hungry for this one and never pulled it off," said a thrilled Edmondson. "It often clashes with our track commitments as well and we don't always get the opportunity. I put my hand up and asked for the leadout.

"Luckily, I had a really strong team in Ash Ankudinoff, Georgia Baker and Alex Manly, they allowed me to focus on myself at the back. I had trust that they would control the bunch and my legs were good enough at the finish."

The 29-year-old then dropped a bombshell when asked how the result sets up for the Olympics and beyond.

"I'm at the end," said Edmondson. "I didn't realise I was at the end until the Olympics got postponed.

"It's been really tough trying to motivate ourselves without any racing when that's all we used to do. If the Games are on, that will probably be me done, hence why this was so important as I don't know if I'll be racing. I'm thinking I'm towards the end."

Edmondson has been a fixture upon the Australian and international racing scene for years, mixing her time on the track and on the road in a career that has seen her claim an Olympic bronze medal, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and a bronze. She has still got the Tokyo Olympics in her head as the next big goal, but spoke of the difficulty in maintaining motivation ahead of the Games.

"It's been a really tough time," said Edmondson, "just trying to keep the head on as much as possible and try to keep training week to week. Train as if everything's going ahead. To really get the most out of training we need to commit and... fingers crossed."

The race itself was a largely subdued affair, any attacks were quickly neutralised and even some Sarah Gigante surges were blunted by a headwind rushing down the uphill section of the home straight.

"The bunch was reduced, there were a few attacks that reduced the size," said Edmondson, "it was really a washing machine style of race, it was getting mixed up a lot. I was trying to move up with my team and I thought 'just relax and wait for the last lap, we can do a last-minute surge'.

"Luckily my teammate Alex Manly was with me, she hit it down the outside and halfway up the finishing straight for me. It was just perfect."

An accident marred the finish, with riders striving to be through the last corner in the best position possible, but that caused a number of riders to fall, with the rest of the peloton diverted by the crashed riders. 

"The crash was about fifth wheel with my teammate Georgia Baker," said Edmondson. "I looked behind and saw a big gap and realised that we're not going to get swamped on the finish line, so we stalled it, stalled it, trying to wait as long as we can because it was a long uphill sprint with a big headwind.

"Then Ruby kicked, so I had to go and it was a big drag race from then on."

Edmondson duly won with Roseman-Gannon second and defending champion Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) third. She ticked off a big career goal in the process, but for Australian cycling fans, it may be one of the last times we get to 'Nettie' in full flight on the road.