IT’S been a different to normal build up to the Bendigo International Madison, but Tayla Evans is determined to give her hometown race a genuine shake.
The 23-year-old is a madison starter for the sixth time and will be the only rider in Saturday night’s field to have contested all six races since the event’s inception in 2013.
She will enter the 2018 race with a new team-mate in South Australian Dani McInnery, who like Evans, has previously scored a podium finish.
Evans said the pair had come together in unusual circumstances.
“My partner (Sarah Gigante) pulled out on Sunday and her partner pulled out as well, so we basically got put together,” she said.
“She is a strong rider, who has ridden a lot of the madisons as well, so I am looking forward to riding with her.
“I have ridden a lot of races against Danni, but I’ve never ridden with her, so I guess we will see how we go together on Saturday.”
Evans, a speech pathologist, who is now based on the Mornington Peninsula, rode a limited schedule of races in 2017 while entering full-time work for the first time..
She last competed at the elite women’s Shimano Super Crit in Melbourne in December, but has spent the weeks since preparing for the madison.
For Evans, who finished second in 2016 and third in 2014 – on both occasions riding with Lauretta Hanson, who is now riding in the United States – little would compare to a feature race win on her home track.
“It’s my favourite race of the year – I always enjoy getting out there and supporting the club and also supporting the race,” she said.
“I have had two podium finishes at Bendigo, a second and a third, but I’d really love to win one.
“Mum has told me I have to go for gold this year.”
Evans expects to have plenty of support in the crowd on Saturday, including mum Rayma, dad Greg, brother Ryan and plenty of friends.
This year’s race represents a watershed moment for the madison, with equal prize money to be paid in the men’s and women’s events.
Evans said the move had been welcomed by her peers.
“It encourages the girls to get out there and give it a crack; it’s really important the girls are seen as being equal,” she said.
It’s my favourite race of the year – I always enjoy getting out there and supporting the club and also supporting the race.Tayla Evans
“Cycling Victoria has been pretty good with their prize money over the last few years – a lot of the madison events have been equal prize money.
“I think having the women’s madison as a showcase event on the Saturday night is a massive thing as well.”
Symes Motors BMW Bendigo International Madison teams:
Team 1 - Tayla Evans (Vic), Dani McInnery (SA).
Team 2 - Brie Hargreaves (SA), Maeve Plouffe (SA).
Team 3 -Ashley Jones (Vic), Alice Culling (Vic).
Team 4 - Emma Jackson (Vic), To be confirmed.
Team 5 - Shannon McCurly (Vic), Elizabeth Nuspan (Vic).
Team 6 - Catalina Soto (Vic), Emma Pane (Vic).
Team 7 - Emily Shearman (NZ), Nicole Shields (NZ).
Team 8 - Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Vic), Sam de Ritter (Vic).