Japanese stars to ride in Bendigo International Madison

Japan's Eiya Hashimoto will be one of the riders to watch in this year's Bendigo International Madison. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Japan's Eiya Hashimoto will be one of the riders to watch in this year's Bendigo International Madison. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The Bendigo International Madison has attracted Japan’s premier madison riders.

Minori Shimmura and Eiya Hashimoto are confirmed starters for the McCaig-Daikin Airconditioning sponsored feature race on March 12.

Between them they’ve won the past three Japanese national madison titles.

Shimmura is no stranger to Australia, having won the 2014 Austral Wheelrace. It will be his second trip to Bendigo after he rode with Scott Sunderland in the 2015 Bendigo International Madison.

Watch Minori Shimmura win the 2014 Austral Wheelrace

Hashimoto was third in the omnium at the 2015 Asian Championships and was fifth in last year’s points race at the world championships.

“They have good madison credentials,’’ Bendigo International Madison acting CEO Scott McGrory said.

“They’ve been very competitive on the world stage in individual events, so if they can combine well in the madison they are going to be very hard to beat.”

McGrory said Japan’s track cycling program is under-rated.

“Track racing in Japan is huge, particularly in the kierin,’’ McGrory said.

“Kierin riders race for millions of dollars in Japan.

“To have two riders of this quality coming from Japan to race in Bendigo speaks volumes for our race. We didn’t chase these riders, they came to us.”

McGrory said the inclusion of the Japanese team in the Bendigo International Madison had the potential to promote the race in Asia.

“Asia is a huge growth area for cycling… in the future I’d love to see us broadcast this race into Asia,’’ McGrory said.

“It would be great to think we could have a couple of teams from Japan and China and have a strong Asian flavour in the race.

“The potential for growth for our event would be enormous. We could broaden it beyond just the madison. We could bring in kierin riders from Japan and there’s no reason why we couldn’t bring out some athletes for the running events as well.”

The madison field is shaping as one of the best in modern times, with the Japense team expected to challenge for the podium with race favourites Cam Meyer and Callum Scotson and rising stars Sam Welsford and Kell O’Brien.

The final field will be announced early next week.