The Bendigo International Madison has continued its reputation for attracting top cyclists, with reigning world champion Kenny De Ketele and last year’s winner Franco Marvulli to headline this year’s field.
Belgium’s De Ketele won the 2012 world title with compatriot Gijs Van Hoecke in Melbourne last April. He and Dutchman Roy Pieters will be aiming to dethrone Swiss ace Marvulli at the Tom Flood Sports Centre on March 9.
After first racing in Bendigo in 1999, Marvulli broke through for his debut win in the southern hemisphere’s biggest Madison with compatriot Loic Perrizzolo last year. Perrizzolo isn’t returning to defend the title and Marvulli is likely to ride with another of his countrymen, Tristan Marguet.
Kiwi raiders Shane Archbold and Marc Ryan will be one of possibly two New Zealand teams in the 17-team field, while Germany’s Leif Lampater and Christian Grassman will be aiming to improve on last year’s fourth-placing.
“I wasn’t actually going to bring them, they’ve assured me they’re in good form,” Bendigo International Madison chief executive Rik McCaig said yesterday.
“They’ve been here a couple of years, they know they let us down a little bit last year and they’re coming out to win in this year; it should be a good contest I think.”
While most teams are yet to be finalised, Bendigo’s George Tansley is sure to be leading the charge against the internationals.
Tansley won the Australian Madison title with Miles Scotson in December at Darebin, finishing behind De Ketele and Geelong’s Leigh Howard – a three-time winner of the McCaig Airconditioning and Daikin-sponsored Bendigo International Madison.
Tansley rides for the South Australian Institute of Sport, where he is coached by fellow Bendigonian Tim Decker.
“I’m just waiting to see who they’re going to pair him up with and a few of the other blokes from the AIS,” McCaig said.
“We’ll still sorting out a fair few teams, so hopefully by the end of next week I’ll have most of it sorted.”
McCaig is also awaiting the AIS’ confirmation about which riders it will send for the inaugural 10-team women’s madison at the four-day event.
“We’re having our first women’s Madison this year, we’ve just got to finalise the sponsorship for that,” McCaig said.
“I think with that women’s event coming in it’s finally promoting that women’s side of the sport as well, which we’ve been wanting to do for years and this is the first year we’re able to confirm that.”
Bendigo cyclists Imogen Jelbart, Kate Finegan and Toni Abbisogni are likely to be amongst the local riders invited to compete, McCaig said.
The Bendigo International Madison was first held in 1972, with the event traditionally taking place on the Labour Day long weekend.