EAGLEHAWK'S cycling champion Glenn O'Shea faces a huge task in Saturday night's Australian Madison at Darebin.
O'Shea will chase a fourth national madison crown as he teams with South Australia's Jack Bobridge,'
"This year's field is the strongest Australian Madison I will have raced against," O'Shea said of what will be a seventh start.
The 24-year-old, now based in Adelaide, is aiming for a big finish to 2013 and flying start to the new year.
The only time he and Bobridge teamed in a madison was their national victory in 2007.
A year later and O'Shea teamed with Leigh Howard to win the national madison.
The 2010 title was won by O'Shea and WA gun Cameron Meyer, who won with Bobridge the following year.
"We know this madison is going to be one of the toughest we have raced in," said O'Shea.
It will not just be a test of endurance and speed against many of Australia's best, but European stars such as Belgium's Kenny de Ketele, Switzerland's Franco Marvulli, Germany's Leif Lampater and Christian Grassman.
Marvulli, Lampater and Grassman have all won the Bendigo International Madison, an event O'Shea has won twice.
"The Europeans have a lot of experience in madisons. De Ketele was one of the best on the track in Mexico,
"De Ketele and Lampater will be tough to beat."
Lampater teamed with Jasper De Buyst to win this year's Ghent six-day race in Belgium.
New Zealand's Shane Archbold and Tom Scully, who have starred in the Bendigo International Madison, will also take to the Darebin track.
"A lot of the Australian riders, like Luke Davison and Alex Edmonson, were in great form at the World Cup in Mexico," said O'Shea.
He won gold in the teams pursuit on the Mexico track.
A silver medallist in the teams pursuit at the London Olympics, O'Shea's all-round skill was to the fore as he won the omnium, a six-discipline contest, at the 2012 world track titles in Melbourne.
The national omnium championship started on Thursday in Darebin, but O'Shea is not in the field.
"I have taken a break from the omnium to focus more on the teams pursuit, points score, scratch race or madison," he said of goals for next year's Australian and then world titles.
Saturday night's card at Darebin includes the first Australian women's madison championship. Bendigo's Imogen Jelbart and Beth Duryea are in the field.
The 77th Melbourne Cup on Wheels, of which O'Shea is a previous winner, will be contested.
After the national madison, O'Shea will prepare for the lucrative Tasmanian carnivals across Christmas-New Year.
O'Shea won all four major wheelraces - Burnie, Devonport, Latrobe and Launceston - at the 2012-13 series. He was the first cyclist to achieve the feat.
The new year could include a start in the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour, which includes a stage on February 7 from Ballarat to Bendigo.
O'Shea is also keen to return home for the Bendigo Madison in March.
"The race is definitely in my sights," he declared.