Peloton Watch
 
  Alex Edmondson first Australian to win Under 23 Tour of Flanders  
 
  April 13th 2015  
     
  Winning the under 23 Tour of Flanders had long been a goal for Alex Edmondson. Even more so the past twelve months, after riding as a key domestique for Caleb Ewan last year. On Saturday that dream came true as Edmondson became the first Australian to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften.

One of the world's top endurance riders on the track with a palmares including multiple Australian and Oceania titles, Commonwealth Champion in the team pursuit and three Track World titles. 2015 has seen Edmondson take a step forward on the road finishing second in the under 23 road race behind teammate Miles Scotson at the Australian Championships in January.

After the 2015 Track World Championships, where in his own words "things didn't quite go to plan." Edmondson refocused and won GP Rancilio at the end of March. Taking the first win for the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy squad for the year. The win providing a confidence boost to himself and the team that his big target - winning Flanders, was in reach.

It is the day after you won the under 23 Tour of Flanders how does it feel?

Unbelievable! I woke up this morning with a massive grin on my face. I don't think this is going to sink in for a while!

Does being the first Australian to win make it more special?

For sure, I have dreamt about winning this race for a number of years now. It was one of my big goals for this year so to be able to accomplish it amazing. I can't stop smiling!!

You have numerous Australian titles, three World titles on the track and are a reigning Commonwealth Champion where does winning Flanders rank for you?

To be honest I think this is up there with the most special. I know you can't take anything away from a Commonwealth and World Championship but this is very special. This means a hell of a lot to me, as I haven't really had to many big wins on the road so to win this I'm a bit blown away!

You raced here last year in support of Caleb Ewan how important was having that experience heading in to the race this year?

Huge, I learnt a hell of a lot last year. Mainly how important it is to ride good position, look after your bike, tyres, keeping hydrated and trying to stay as cool as you can and not panic too much when things don't go your way. I knew the course as well so I knew some of the key points on the course that I needed to be close to the front.

It has been a target for you for the past 12 months how much focus and preparation had you put in?

Exactly. Every time I was thinking of taking the soft option or I would complain to Tim Decker about being absolutely ruined he would remind me, "How badly do you want to win Flanders". Since the Track World Champs where things didn't quite go to plan I told myself I want to make up for it with a good result in Flanders. Thatís what makes winning so special, you look back at all the hard times, the numerous sacrifices you made to make this possible!

You won GP Rancilio a couple of weeks ago did that win give you confidence heading in knowing you had good form?

Yeah that was big for me. I knew after that race that I obviously had some good form under me and that I was on track for Flanders. There were a few key training sessions I did between there and Flanders, which played a big roll in the end.

Seven cobbled climbs within the final 45 kilometres and the group got smaller and smaller as the kilometres went by. You were in the selection of around 40 riders, which reduced to nine and then became just you and Gianni Moscon. Can you talk us through that final part of the race and how it unfolded?

That's right. Every climb and cobbled section the bunch reduced in size. It was so important to ride good position. I knew that the Koppenberg was going to be very decisive on the race so I knew I had to be in good position. Thankfully I still had Alex Clements who was on a blinder of a day and managed to lead me into it for the 5kms before hand and deliver me in 2nd wheel.

Over the top it was just us two. The Norwegian and a German came across before we managed to drop them on the next two cobbled sections. Gianni was flying in the last few kilometres. I really had to go to hell and back to hold his wheel up the Ekenberg!

He attacked a few times after that but thankfully I still had good legs. As stupid as this will sound I didn't know if we were the lead riders in the race. I saw the motorbike scout with the time gaps but couldn't work out wether we were in the lead or there were still three guys up the road. I called the bike over and asked, "This is a stupid question but are we the lead riders in the race or is there riders up the road?" He just stuck four fingers out.

All of a sudden I thought I was racing for fourth place. I was so confused! Coming into the finish I left the sprint as late as possible as Gianni wouldn't pull a turn so I backed myself for an explosive sprint. I thought I had won the sprint for fourth so didn't salute only a one finger as I was still stoked I had got 4th! It wasn't till I stopped with my swanny who had his arms in the air celebrating. I had to ask, "Wait who won!?!" His reply was, "You!! They just called your name!!". WOW was I shell shocked!

I think this made the win even sweeter! Going from thinking I got 4th to actually winning and being the first Australian to win the Under 23 Flanders. I am also probably the first ever person to win and not realise I had actually won the race!! (I am going to say I think that I must have been completely stuffed to not realise I was sprinting for the win!!!)

Inside the final kilometre the gap was down to 14 seconds to Truls Engen Korsaeth did you know how close he was getting?

Yeah, I kept on looking over my shoulder and seeing him getting closer and closer. I yelled at Gianni that he was coming at us and we needed to keep riding but I don't think he understood English, or he just decided not to listen!! Ha!

You are known as a very fast finisher. During that final kilometre what was going through your mind? Was there any point where you were confident you would win?

Honestly I was telling myself, 'I have left this for a sprint to the line, you better not F this up!!" Probably not what you should be telling yourself but I guess it worked!!

What did you feel as you crossed the line?

As I said before I didn't realise I had won. It wasn't till I was with my swanny that I realised! But when I did realise I was so over whelmed. My eyes got a bit watery. I was in disbelief I had actually managed to accomplish something I had dreamt and thought about for so long!

The entire team performed really well but also had some bad luck with crashes and mechanicals but you have been working really well together. How important has it been to the success so far this season?

It's only been a short month over here in Europe with WTA boys but it has been very enjoyable. We have been able to gel as a team fairly fast, which has helped in a big way to get some really good results. I can easily say for the two wins I have managed to get they have all come down to the amazing rides that my teammates have given me. They have dedicated themselves and believed in me to be able to finish the job off for them and lucky I have.

Coming up you have La Cote Picarde is this your next target?

Yeah, it's a fast turn around for Picarde on Wednesday, which will be interesting. Jack Haig is coming into the team. Of course we have high expectations and want to come away with a great result. I am looking forward to getting on the front and returning the favour for all the boys that have given me so much already!
 
 
       
 © 2016 PelotonWatch.com