THE Bendigo International Madison is traditionally a wide-open event, and organisers say this year’s edition is shaping up as one in which any of the 15 teams entered could lay claim to being a winning chance.
Despite a number of high profile entrants headlining the field for Sunday’s 200-lap classic, the winner could come from any of the pairings.
Another curve ball this year is the introduction of a 60-lap prelude tonight, that will count toward Sunday’s feature.
Young stars and upcoming Commonwealth games representatives Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien are the team to beat, but the 49 years of the race are littered with examples of the “marked men” being stalked out of contention by wary teams.
Madison racing is often an event where the lesser lights can shine, as has been the case in recent years.
In 2014, an up-and-coming local surprised the internationals when Sam Crome combined with Roy Pieters to take the title.
In 2015, teenagers Dan Fitter and Callum Scotson took the honours and followed it up with a 2016 victory.
Last year, Wight teamed with Alex Porter to claim victory and will ride with another South Australian in Josh Harrison this year.
Wight also teamed with Porter to take the national title in December, and will ride in the national colours in team seven.
Internationals Christian Grassman and Nick Stopler will team up in the green colours of the number two team, while local hope Brendan Schultz joins Ben Harvey in the light blue of team three.
Japan’s Minori Shimmura will also be in action with Nick Simpson in the yellow colours of the number four pairing.
Shimmura is riding in his fifth madison and described Simpson as a very strong teammate and said he had high hopes for Sunday’s race.
Another local, Isaac Buckell, will ride with fellow young gun Godfrey Slattery in the dark blue colours of team number five.
Buckell and Slattery have been two of the rising stars of Victoria’s endurance track program, with Buckell making his second start in his hometown event.
Kiwis Aaron Wylie and Harry Waine will team up in team number six (orange jerseys), Germany’s Achim Burchart and Victorian Tom McFarlane will team up in the green, white and red colours of team number eight.
Another New Zealander in Brad Evans and Jensen Plowright combine in team nine, Lachie Scott and Braden O’Shea make up team 10 while Commonwealth games representative Leigh Howard rides with Cam Scott in team 11 and will be among the chances.
Tasmanian Josh Gilmore and Josh Duffy will ride in the black colours of team number 12, Jarrod Drizners and Cooper Sayers combine in team 13, Luke Plapp and Nathan Bof are team number 14.
Last but certainly not least are Jordan Kerby and Nick Yallouris, who will also head to next month’s Gold Coast games.
The 2018 Bendigo International Madison field:
Team one (white jersey): Sam Welsford, Kelland O’Brien
Team two (green): Christian Grassman, Nick Stopler
Team three (light blue): Brendan Schultz, Ben Harvey
Team four (yellow): Minori Shimmura, Nick Simpson
Team five (dark blue): Isaac Buckell, Godfrey Slattery
Team six (orange): Aaron Wylie, Harry Waine
Team seven (green and gold): Rohan Wight, Josh Harrison
Team eight (green, white and red): Achim Burchart, Tom McFarlane
Team nine (pink): Brad Evans, Jensen Plowright
Team 10 (red): Lachie Scott, Braden O’Shea
Team 11 (black and blue): Leigh Howard, Cam Scott
Team 12 (black): Zac Gilmore, Josh Duffy
Team 13 (black and red): Jarrod Dizners, Cooper Sayers
Team 14 (royal blue): Luke Plapp, Nathan Bof
Team 15 (blue and white): Jordan Kerby, Nick Yallouris