Blake aims to break drought

March 8, 2024 BY

Riding home: National champion Blake Agnoletto is a good chance to be the first locally raised winner of the Bendigo International Madison in 10 years, Photo: RICHARD BAILEY

IT’S been a decade since a Bendigo-raised cyclist has won the Bendigo International Madison.

This Sunday night Blake Agnoletto will aim to break the home-track drought when he teams with Oliver Bleddyn in the 200-lap showdown from 8.15pm.

The reigning national madison champion after December’s success with Kell O’Brien in Melbourne, Agnoletto carries plenty of expectations into the 50th running of the classic at Tom Flood Sports Centre.

Moves by Agnoletto and Bleddyn will be closely watched by their 24 rivals and thousands of fans.

They teamed up the madison at last month’s UCI Tissot Nations Cup round in Adelaide.

“Racing in Bendigo is so different to the velodromes of Adelaide or Melbourne,” Agnoletto said.

It’s not just the 400-plus metres distance of the Bendigo track, but also outdoor conditions and much lower banking on the curves.

Although he has rarely raced at home in the past couple of years, Agnoletto has shone each time.

A great run at the Bendigo leg of the latest Christmas carnivals included another Lindsay Harrington Memorial Wheelrace victory.

“To be racing before a home crowd and in such a big event is something I am really looking forward to,” Agnoletto said.

Key challengers in Agnoletto and Bleddyn’s quest for glory are reigning champion Conor Leahy who teams with Graeme Frislie.

The international charge is led by Germany’s Moritz Augenstein and Moritz Malcharek, and New Zealand’s James Gardner and Bailey O’Donnell.

Fans will cheer on Bendigo’s Josh Clarke and Curtis Harrison in their BIM debut.

Back in 2014 it was Bendigo’s own Sam Crome who teamed with Dutch ace Roy Pieters to mark one of the biggest boilovers in BIM history.

An action-packed night of cycling on Sunday includes the women’s madison from 6.50pm.

A field of 10 teams will race 70 laps.

There’s the all-Bendigo team of rising stars Belinda Bailey and Lilyth Jones, and clubmates Milana Freer and Haylee Jack who are in the showdown.

Highs of Saturday night’s cycling program include the Golden Mile Wheelrace, Bill McLachlan Memorial aces scratch race over 20 laps.

The two-day athletics-cycling carnival starts at 1.30pm on Saturday.