Zack Gilmore battles back from lymphoma to make Bendigo International Madison debut

BENDIGO BOUND: Zach Gilmore, who is rising in Sunday's madison, wins the 2017 Mersey Wheel at the Devonport Carnival in December. Picture: THE ADVOCATE
BENDIGO BOUND: Zach Gilmore, who is rising in Sunday's madison, wins the 2017 Mersey Wheel at the Devonport Carnival in December. Picture: THE ADVOCATE

Zack Gilmore has refused to let cancer slow him down.

The 18-year-old Tasmanian is busy preparing for his first ride in the Symes Motors BMW Bendigo International Madison.

Gilmore will team with fellow Taswegian Josh Duffy in Sunday’s feature event at Tom Flood Sports Centre.

His debut in the race will come little more than a week after he finished his last round of chemotherapy.

Gilmore, who is one of Tasmania’s brightest young cycling prospects, is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He was diagnosed in November 2015.

It’s been an at times rough road for the state junior representative, Gilmore said it was fitting he would get to mark the end of his chemotherapy with a return to the velodrome.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to be back on the bike racing,” he said.

“It’s been a real tough journey to get where I am – I had to start back from the ground floor.

“To be honest, it’s been such a learning curve for me that I’ve actually appreciated the time it has taken me to get back.

“There’s been some frustration and anxiety about whether I would start to perform again, but now that I am near the end of all the treatment and the all the effects are starting to wear a bit, I can see a good future.”

Gilmore and Duffy, who is 17, are one of the youngest pairings in the madison.

It will be the long-time training partners’ first madison as a team, with their plans to do so earlier dashed by a broken collarbone to Duffy and Gilmore’s own health issues.

Gilmore admitted there would be a few nerves coming up against a world-class field headed by Commonwealth Games team members Sam Welsford, Kelland O’Brien, Jordan Kirby and Nick Yallouris and a host of international riders.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to be back on the bike racing.

Zack Gilmore

“But equally exciting getting the opportunity to race against world-level guys and to be able to compare ourselves to them,” he said.

“We want to show there is pathway to get to their level.”

Gilmore will be the first third generation rider to contest the madison, following on from his grandfather Graeme in the 1970s and his father Matthew, who rode through the 90s and 2000s and won the event with Dean Woods in 1995.

Zack’s uncle Luc – Matthew’s brother – also rode in Bendigo during the 90s and 2000s.

“I always went over as a kid to watch dad, but now to be a part of it is exciting,” Gilmore said.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to follow in the footsteps of dad and hopefully forge myself a path to go over to Europe and race there in the future.

“Dad has always been one of my heroes when I look at trying to achieve things on the bike.

Grandfather Graeme was a champion of the six-day circuit in Europe was one of the first Australian riders to break into the European track scene. 

Matthew Gilmore said he had fond memories of the Bendigo International Madison.

“As young kids, being a Tassie boy, it was always Christmas carnivals and the Bendigo madison that we looked forward to and strived to do well at,” he said.

“The year that I won I was away in Perth for six days and came back and raced with Dean Woods.

“I think Stephen Pate and Rick McCaig finished second, a real handy pair to beat.

“It’s not just the madison, it’s the atmosphere – it’s a special thing to soak up. It’s just an iconic carnival, which is now the pillar of Australian cycling.”

While he has ventured back to Bendigo several times since his retirement from racing, Gilmore won’t make the trip back this year, but said he could not be prouder of Zack getting his chance to rub shoulders with the big boys of cycling.

“To go through what he has and still be a pretty competitive cyclist he’s done a great job,” he said.