Track Worlds Wrap-Up

Tue 26 Feb 2013

While ORICA-GreenEDGE is strictly a road team, we’re proud of our riders accomplishments across the various disciplines in which they compete and happily provide brief coverage of their non-road racing endeavours. Nettie Edmondson, Melissa Hoskins and Michael Hepburn made us particularly proud as they captured medal after medal in Minsk, Belarus during the Track World Championships.

The three riders, who split their time between racing on the track and the road, came home with six medals across five disciplines. Below, we revisit their accomplishments and bring you commentary from each as they reflected upon their experiences in Minsk

Nettie Edmondson leaves Minsk with three medals – one for each of the three events in which she competed. She opened up her account with a bronze in the individual pursuit on the first day of racing at the Track World Championships before combining forces with Melissa Hoskins, Amy Cure and Ashlee Ankudinoff in the team pursuit. The Australian squad earned a silver medal against Great Britain with Canada rounding out the podium. In her last event, Nettie overcame a less than stellar performance on the first day of the omnium to secure bronze at the race’s conclusion.

While I’m pretty pleased with my performances, I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied with my Track World Championships. My main ambition was to win gold in one of my three events and earn a rainbow jersey.

That said, it’s really exciting to come home with a medal for each of my events. It shows that I’m on the right track and gives me extra motivation for the 2014 track season.

The omnium was the most challenging event for me this past week. It’s an event that is comprised of six disciplines over two days. It’s gruelling enough as is without the extra pressure I experienced to improve position. I had an average performance in the elimination that set me back to fourth after the first day of racing and increased the gap between me and the overall race leader, Sarah Hammer (USA). I had to pick myself up on the second morning, stay motivated and ensure the negativity of the previous day didn’t impact my final three races.

The bronze medal in the individual pursuit is particularly special. Not quite three years ago, I made the decision to switch from sprinting to endurance in order to focus on the omnium. I’m fitter now than I was when we made that decision, but due to my background, my weakest events in the omnium remain the endurance-style events such as the points race and the individual pursuit. To earn a medal in an event that has traditionally been my weakness is a huge confidence boost – especially when we made a late decision to have me ride the individual pursuit at Worlds in the first place. I’m already keen to give it another crack next year, but this time with more specific preparation.

Next for me is the road! I’m about to start my first professional year of racing on the road with ORICA-AIS, and I’m really looking forward to it. I may have to race a couple of track races during the year as qualification for the 2014 Track World Championships as I’m still interested in balancing both the track and the road in the lead up to Rio 2016. Melissa Hoskins shares this sentiment, and she and I both realize that we are very fortunate to have a road team that is so accommodating with our dual ambitions. But for now, I can’t wait to get on the road and give the 2013 road season a serious crack! 

Melissa Hoskins raced two events in Minsk – the same two events that she raced last year at the Track World Championships in Melbourne. Last year, she earned silver in both the team pursuit and the scratch race. This year, she was part of Australia’s team pursuit squad that equaled the silver earned in 2012. She finished a self-proclaimed ‘disappointing’ 15th place in the scratch race after a trio of riders broke away from the field to contest the medals amongst themselves.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that I’m a little bit disappointed with my rides. Like Nettie, I compare this year to the Track World Championships last year. When I take into consideration the form I had last year and the results I achieved, I had really hoped to be standing on the top step in at least one of the two events I raced. It seemed like a reasonable goal. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this year.

We rode well as a team in the team pursuit, and I’m pleased we made the gold and silver ride off that we had missed at the Olympics last summer. It just wasn’t enough to come over the Brits. We have three more years to get it right, and I have no doubt that we’ll slowly get there.

The scratch race is always a lottery, and in this case, the lottery wasn’t in my favour at all. It was quite negative, which was difficult to swallow. The winning move was up the track and nobody wanted to work. I have to remind myself that these this just part of bike racing. There’s always next time.

The track season breaks up my year. Towards the end of the track season, I start to get eager for the start of my road season and to spend time with my road teammates. When the end of the road season is in sight, I find myself clamouring to get back on the track. It’s a huge added bonus that track and road work hand in hand to improve my sprinting. I can’t see myself giving up one for another quite yet. I’m having too much fun doing both!

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Vienna airport waiting for my flight to Spain. I will have a few days off before getting back into the rigors and rhythm of road training to prepare for my first road race next month in Italy (Padova). I can’t wait to see the ORICA-AIS girls and catch up and throw myself into the mix of road racing. They’re already off to a great start with a huge win in Europe on Saturday. I can’t wait to contribute!

Michael Hepburn had what can only be described as a perfect performance at the Track World Championships. A late addition to Australia’s team pursuit squad, he guided his less-experienced teammates to a dominating performance against Great Britain to take his first gold medal of the Championships. He pulled on his second rainbow jersey the following day in the individual pursuit as he successfully defended his world title. Michael is now a five-time elite track world champion. 

It’s been a very successful two days of racing. My goal coming into this week was to walk away with two rainbow jersey, so satisfaction is probably an appropriate word to capture how I feel right now. A lot of time, it doesn’t work out exactly how you plan. I’m very excited that it did for me this week.

Obviously this week was about winning. For me, it was also about riding at a higher level than I did this time last year. My time in the individual pursuit wasn’t quite as quick, but last year’s track was considerably faster. The important thing is that I feel great on the bike at the moment. The work over the Aussie summer is paying dividends.

Two weeks before Worlds, I spoke to our coach Ian McKenzie about the team pursuit. He was impressed with how the South Australian team pursuit team had performed at the Australian National Track Championships and thought that, with some extra horsepower, we’d be in for a shot at the gold here at Worlds. I put my hand up to ride. Ian allowed me to split my concentration in training between the team pursuit and the individual pursuit. I was happy to have the opportunity.

I was the more experienced guy in the current team pursuit line-up, so I’ve really had to step it up this year. I’ve shared all my experience with the other guys and from there we had to learn exactly how each of us rides. When I came out of juniors, I had guys like Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis showing me the way, so now that’s my job with the new guys. I’ve really enjoyed it – of course, it’s hard not to enjoy it when the end result is a rainbow jersey!

After winning the qualifying round of the individual pursuit the following day, I was fairly confident that I would be able to lift but it certainly wasn’t a given. I knew Martyn Irvine (Ireland) would be super motivated for the win, so I wanted to go out there on a 4:15 schedule and put him under pressure from the start. I accomplished this and handily defended my title.

Thanks for all the support during my two days of racing. Special shout goes to all the coaches, soigneurs, mechanics, Ian McKenzie, Paolo Menaspà, ORICA-GreenEDGE for allowing me to race on the track, and, of course, my mum and dad.