Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson will lead the black and orange team at the Tour of Chongming Island, which begins with a 118km circuit race on Friday. The three-day event is the first stage race of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, and the only event in the 2017 series in Asia. Edmondson returns to the race that she won in 2013, as a 21-year-old, with a squad built for the expected bunch sprints in the pancake-flat race.
“It was my first win as a pro,” she smiled, remembering that 2013 victory. “I really like the race. It’s something different to usual, all the fans are really crazy. It has a different kind of feel. You fly into a different world and get greeted by a really excited team of volunteers.
“At the start line you have loads of fans who want signatures. It’s a nice race because it’s something different to what we usually expect in Europe.”
With previous years dominated by endurance racing on the track, the Tour of Chongming Island has not always fitted into Edmondson’s programme. In her first post-Olympic season, and her first with Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling, however, the Australian has found the wide, flat roads of the race very much to her liking.
“I’ve only done it twice - in 2013 and 2015 - and it was each time it was always pretty cruisey [sic] with a big bunch finish every stage,” she explained. “A couple of times there were breaks that happened, but then it always came back together. It’s nice and flat and I don’t mind bunch finishes.”
As her victory in March’s Pajot Hills Classic proves, Edmondson is far from reliant on a flat course for success. As a rider who races with so much power, however, the Chinese course suits her characteristics very well.
“It really does suit the power riders, who do have the explosive sprint, which is why it always suited me coming off the track,” she smiled”
Edmondson will be far from the only sprinter in the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling line up. Also at the start will be Jolien D’hoore, who continues her return after a short post-Classics break, and former two-time junior World Champion Lucy Garner. Younger sister Grace Garner will also contribute considerable speed to the team’s stage finishes, while strength and power will be provided by Julie Leth and Amy Roberts.
“We have a really strong sprint team here,” Edmondson explained. “We have Jolien, we’ve got the two Garner sisters, who will also do well in the team lead out. We’ve got the really strong Julie Leth, and Amy Roberts, who’s also been in China before.
“Jolien and I had delays on our visas, but we were saying that if we didn't get our visas then at least we had two other sprinters going!” she joked.
Edmondson is not the only member of the black and orange team to have enjoyed victory on Chongming Island. In Edmondson’s overall victory year of 2013, the first stage was won by Lucy Garner, marking the remarkable junior’s arrival in the elite peloton with a bang.
“That was really cool,” Edmondson said. “That was the first time I heard of Lucy in the pro peloton. We’d all heard about her at the Junior Worlds, but it was cool to see her stand up. I had a really strong team behind me, who had faith in me, and I ended up winning by one second. It was a dream come true that year.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Tour of Chongming Island
Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Grace Garner (Great Britain), Lucy Garner (Great Britain), Julie Leth (Denmark), Amy Roberts (Great Britain)
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse