Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson won the second edition Pajot Hills Classic in Gooik, Belgium, with a sprint that pulled her clear of her rivals on the uphill finishing straight. The Australian former double Track World Champion crossed the line several lengths ahead of the battle for second place, which was won by Italian Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM) over compatriot Ilaria Sanguineti (BePink-Cogeas).
“I knew with this type of uphill finish that it was all about power, so you just had to be in a good position when it was long and strung out,’ Edmondson explained afterwards. “It wasn’t a big bunch kick really, it was more of a big grovel really, I had a lot of anger and energy, and it just all exploded up that hill. It was awesome!
“When you’ve got someone like Jolien [D’hoore] in the team, you’ve got to back her in the major races, so we had to capitalise on this opportunity. That’s why I wanted to do a good job and show that I can do it if I’m asked.”
The Pajot Hills Classic included many of the elements that make up some of Belgium’s biggest Classics, including several cobbled sections and some of its most mythical climbs. Despite her track racing history, Edmondson was able to compete with the best riders in the peloton over these obstacles and still have to power to unleash such a devastating sprint at the finish.
“It was a bit of a course with everything really; a small lap, a big lap and then two small laps to finish,” she explained. “There were probably about 7-8km of cobbles in it, and a couple of big hills. In the middle of the race was the Muur, and then a few km later was the Bosberg, so we were just hoping that it was going to come back into a reduced bunch kick like it did last year.
“Looking at the teams there we felt that we could challenge the teams there, in the sprint, but because it was small race we gave everybody the opportunity to make a move, or to be in a group, or to try to win the race for themselves somehow.”
Although the team line up was very different to that of Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem, it was another incredible display of teamwork from the riders of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling. Each athlete was able to ride for their own chances, before coming together in the finale to set up Edmondson for the victory.
“We just covered all the moves, and tried to be in a good position going over the hills and, if it was going to come down to a bunch kick, they were going to give me a lead out,” Edmondson explained.
“It pretty much went to plan, which was cool!
“The Muur is more of a power climb. It’s sort of short and sharp,” the Australian continued. “I raced up it four years ago, and I felt pretty good up it, so it’s never been one that I’ve hated. So I thought that, if I was in a good position at the bottom, I should be able to get over it. It was just a matter of whether I’d be able to recover in time for the Bosberg.
“The girls were great, and they put me in a great position, and I managed to get up in the top five, which was a surprise. I was in a group of four for a little bit, but then it came back together and Claudia got into a group of five, which was good because that meant I could chill out in a group on the Bosberg.
“There were a lot of attacks in the last couple of laps, and Julie and Amy covered everything really well, then put me in a really good position in the last few km.
“I know that going over the Muur that the legs were good, so there was no excuse there,” Edmondson laughed. “I’m just lucky to have a really strong team that believed in me, and gave it everything.”
- Annette Edmondson (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
- Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM)
- Ilaria Sanguineti (BePink-Cogeas)