The madison can be a nervy affair at the best of times, but for up and coming Welsh youngster Owain Doull the madison at next month's International Belgian Open track meet in Ghent will be one of the most nerve-wracking races of his life.
The 20 year-old from Cardiff will be partnered with former world road race champion and double world madison champion Mark Cavendish as the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider makes his return to serious track competition on September 6.
Doull claimed 11th in the madison at the most recent track world championships in Minsk, Belarus, last February with world points champion Simon Yates. Nevertheless he told Cycling Weekly he was still nervous ahead of his first race with Cavendish.
"I've raced against him a few times at the Tour of Britain and the national road race championships, but nothing like this," he said.
"I am a bit nervous really, it will probably be quite surreal. He's one of the big stars of the sport, so I'll just try not to mess up too much and hopefully I'll do a good job. But I'm excited more than anything!"
Cavendish and Wiggins take madison gold at the
2008 world track championships in Manchester
Cavendish was the last British rider to win a world title in the madison, doing so with Bradley Wiggins in 2008 before a disappointing ride in the Beijing Olympics several months later. He took his first title with Rob Hayles in 2005.
Doull meanwhile is one of British cycling's hot prospects, claiming fifth in the scratch race at his first senior world championships in Minsk.
This weekend he will tackle the Tour de l'Avenir stage race, the U23 Tour de France, in support of Simon and Adam Yates and a stage win of his own, before the road world championships in Florence in late September.
He will return to the track to build towards the Manchester round of the Track World Cup which takes place over the weekend of November 1-3.
"The aim of this competition [in Belgium] is to earn qualifying points for the World Cups, and past that we'll take it from there," he added.
"I'm not sure [of Mark's plans]. Obviously I look towards doing the bunch races and madison at Manchester World Cup, and that would be my aim, to get selected.
"Whether that's why Cav's riding it, I'm not sure, but I guess that's why he's riding it as well. Riding the Manchester World Cup with Cav would be amazing!"
Report: Bradley Wiggins abandons Grand Tour ambitionsGreat Britain U23 riders target Tour de l'AvenirGB Academy adds Atkins, Doull and Slater to Academy line up
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Richard Abraham is an award-winning writer, based in New Zealand. He has reported from major sporting events including the Tour de France and Olympic Games, and is also a part-time travel guide who has delivered luxury cycle tours and events across Europe. In 2019 he was awarded Writer of the Year at the PPA Awards.
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