Former world champion and Tokyo bound athlete Annette Edmondson had the fastest sprinting legs in the peloton to win the 2021 MGA SA Open Kermesse Women’s championship on Sunday.
Amid the misty and unpleasant rain on Mount Gambier’s picturesque John Watson Drive, a grandstand finish for the state title was in store.
In a competitive field boasting previous and future Olympians, not a single breakaway could form leaving the win there for the taking.
Once the final-lap bell rang after almost an hour of tight racing in slippery conditions, the battle for position was on for young and old.
As the riders took the final left and charged down the hill towards the finish, the Australian representative riders showcased their top speed.
In the end Edmondson pushed the hardest and secured first place, followed by Ruby Rosman-Gannon and Maeve Plouffe.
Although the iconic view of the Blue Lake was obscured from the winter weather, Edmondson strug- gled to contain her excitement after winning a late sprint reminis- cent of her exploits on the track.
“It was awesome,” she said.
With the consistent rain making life difficult for the riders from the start, plus jumping back on the bike less than 24 hours after a 111km race, Edmondson said it was a war of attrition with no one willing to break from the pack.
“Saturday’s race was super hard with three and a half hours of go, so everyone was feeling it and I just had to remember it was not just me,” she said.
“It was pretty average weather, but once you were up and running, it was not too bad even when it was raining.
“I tried to get away a couple of times to see what would happen, but no one was wanting to join, so I had to back my sprint legs in for the finish.” It only her second time racing in the Limestone Coast, Edmondson enjoyed the experience of riding around in the country.
Being shut out from the usual calendar of international races, she believes it has been beneficial to support local clubs and be assisted by those same communities.
Edmondson has achieved a lot in her decorated career headlined by soon to be three appearances at the Olympic games.
She burst onto the big stage by claiming bronze on Olympics debut at London 2012 and went on to win the prestigious rainbow jersey as world champion three times.
However, she said the previous 12 months have been her toughest period physically and mentally with so much uncertainty up in the air.
“The biggest challenge of my career was last year during COVID when the games were postponed to mentally switch on again and just to survive training with no racing,” Edmondson said.
“I was lucky to get a lot of sup- port from my coaches and team mates to adjust the program and we are definitely in a good place now.” The 111km MGCC Women’s Classic did not disappoint either with another close finish.
Another Australian team member Alexandra Manly edged out fellow scratch group rider Roseman-Gannon after 2.52:07 of riding.
Eloise Sandow was the top handicapped rider rounding out the podium, while Tess Wight did the locals proud to finish eighth.