Interview: Joshua Edmondson (4th in the Worlds)
Story posted August 11, 2010; by Larry Hickmott
Finishing agonisingly close to a medal in the Junior Men’s World Road Race Championships last week was Joshua Edmondson riding for the Great Britain team. Crossing the line in fourth place, his performance was nothing short of brilliant and British Cycling caught up with the young Motorpoint Marshals Pasta star when he returned to England.
Having just finished a few hours steady to help the recovery process after his efforts in the Road Worlds, Joshua spoke to British Cycling and started by saying that his result at the Worlds was well above anything else he has done so far in his short cycling career.
“This was my first proper year racing abroad in World Cups and stuff and it really has been a step up” he explained. “It was a massive shock at first racing in Europe so I was very happy on Sunday to be racing right up there at the Worlds.”
It was a result that provoked mixed feelings for the rider who started the season by winning the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree being helped by no less a rider than Olympic Champion Ed Clancy. On one hand, the result at the Road Worlds showed Joshua he had what it takes to race at this level but on the other, a medal was only a bike length or two away.
“I’m very happy to have finished fourth although after I crossed the line, I did start thinking about how close I was to a medal. I can’t be too unhappy though.”
The road to the World Championships started many months before as he made sure the coach of the Olympic Development Programme (Men’s Endurance) Darren Tudor was aware of his wish to be part of the team for the Junior Worlds Road Race. That wish came true two weeks out from the race when he, along with Tom Moses and Adam Yates were selected for the event.
A training camp in Wales then followed where the three riders were sent out on the road for many hours, practising their climbing and preparing for the biggest race of their young lives. It was, says Josh, good preparation. “My form is really good and I don’t know how I could have got it better for the race. I would have preferred to have gone out to Italy earlier to get used to the heat but other than that, it was all good.”
Joshua has also had some good teachers over the last few years with the teams he has been part of and this year, he was a surprise addition to the Motorpoint Marshals Pasta team under the guidance of former pro champion Keith ‘Legs’ Lambert. “Keith has been instrumental in the learning process” says Joshua “and I have learnt a lot from him this year. He certainly knows what he is talking about when it comes to bike racing.”
Joshua and his two teammates also had another ace up their sleeve in the days before the race; Great Britain Cycling Team’s logistics man and former professional, Keith Reynolds. The former winner of the Lincoln Grand Prix, Milk Race Stage winner and Olympian (1984) was on hand to give the riders some useful advice on racing at the Worlds level. For Joshua, that meant racing with his head and not his legs.
A victory for Joshua in the Isle of Man Youth Tour earlier this year. Photo Richard Allen.
“I have got a habit of burning off too much energy early on in a race and we had a team meeting the night before with Keith Reynolds and we talked a lot about conserving energy over the first four or five laps. Keith explained it was going to be a wearing down process and there was no need for me or the others to start smashing everyone on the first few laps and then blow.”
Joshua and his two team mates spent the day before the race doing a few laps of the course and came away knowing the course was going to be fine. “It was hilly but they weren’t too steep” Joshua says.
Race day and their were a few nerves but that was to be expected in a race where careers can be forged and on home ground, the Italians were setting a fast tempo on the climbs to try and wear down the field. As the GB manager had predicted, it was proving to be a wearing down process as the peloton got smaller and smaller each lap up the climb until there were only 30 or so riders left at the front.
Into the final laps of the race, the serious attacks started to come and that reduced the numbers up front even more and still in there were two of the Brits, Tom Moses and Joshua who takes up the story of the race. “Towards the back end of the race, the Italians weren’t really doing a lot but the Belgians, two of them, Jasper Stuyven and Jens Adams, did a lot to thin it out over the top of the climb. The heat was also big factor and it was really really hot.”
Another milestone for Joshua (centre) this year was a win in the long running North West classic, the Eddie Soens.
Approaching the finish, there was a break of five up the road and Joshua says they (Tom and himself) weren’t sure whether the chase group would catch them before the finish. “I was talking to Tom Moses coming into the last lap about whether we should try and jump across or organise a chase but the race gathered momentum pretty quickly at the same time”.
“The Belgians too were very keen to get it back and along the flatter section, they knocked a lot of time out of the break. On the last climb, we caught the break near the bottom and that is when the eventual winner attacked and had just enough of a gap for riders to hesitate”.
The finish for the race was a tough one. A long climb of around 7 per cent before it levelled out for the 200 metre sprint to the finish line. Taking us through what happened next as the sprint approached and the Frenchman was dangling agonisingly close off the front, Joshua says “the chase was all a bit unorganised really. There was a Belgian (Adams) trying to lead out Jasper the defending champion and Adams was doing just enough to bring back the French rider but then Adams swung off with about 500 to go.”
“Jasper was on his wheel and he didn’t want to take it up straight away and so the Frenchman opened up the gap again. I then waited until the sprint opened up on the right and I went on the left and after that it was just a drag strip sprint to the line.”
Unfortunately for Joshua, his sprint was not strong enough to net him a medal but he does admit that riding at that level does suit him. “In England, there are about 10 riders all watching each other and it’s them who are making the race. If we don’t attack, then nobody attacks and we just ride round. But when we go abroad, we don’t have to make the race as much and we can wait for the Belgians for example to go and mark them as opposed to us making the moves and others marking us.”
Joshua Edmondson during his first experience on the track at an ODP camp last December. Next up on his schedule are the Track Nationals and then the Junior Tour of Wales.
The result from the Road Worlds is one he hopes will open up doors to a career on the road as a professional. “The experience showed me that it’s the direction I want to go in and I can use my result to get to the next level. The GB Academy is where I want to go to next for sure. I’d be happy racing out in Italy and hopefully this result will help me do that.”
For now, Joshua has a date with the Track Nationals and then, hopefully, the Junior Tour of Wales, where he is hoping to get a spot in the field. While he has raced the road for a few years, track racing is all new to him and his first time on it was at an ODP camp last December in Newport. Because the track is so new to him, he didn’t expect to get selected for the Junior Track Worlds but was certainly happy to get a chance in the Road Worlds, one which proved he is certainly on the right track to following in the footsteps of so many British riders and a career in cycling as a professional.
Good luck to Joshua and thanks for talking to British Cycling.