FRIDAY night's Andy's Earthmovers criterium in Bendigo's CBD is the entree to a huge weekend of cycling-athletics action.
Bendigo's Sam Crome and Dutch ace Roy Pieters are expecting a fast pace as the criterium winds its way along Pall Mall, Howard Place, through Rosalind Park and turn at View Street.
Racing begins at 6.30pm and involves the stars here for the McCaig Airconditioning Bendigo International Madison track classic.
The madison is the major focus, but Crome and Pieters are determined to race well in the 30-lap battle on the streets.
Team-mates for Sunday night's madison, Crome and Pieters said the criterium was always a great test.
"It's not an easy circuit to race on," said Crome.
"The corner off Gaol Road into the park will test everyone.
"It's almost a stop going into the park, and then the race is right on."
Last year's criterium was won by Scott Law.
Germany's Leif Lampater ruled in 2009.
First held in 2003, the criterium's honour board includes Mark Cavendish, Simon Clarke and Bendigo's Zak Dempster.
This year is Pieters' fourth campaign in Bendigo.
He teamed with Belgian star Kenny de Ketele to be fourth in last year's madison.
"The Bendigo International Madison is a fantastic race. The outdoor track takes some getting used to," Pieters said.
Pieters, 24, is now in his third week in Bendigo and has raced on the club's Thursday night program at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
He won the Victorian 15km scratch race championship at Darebin.
Pieters said the 14-day Tour of Philippines had helped build up strength for the 200-lap madison.
"There a lot of teams who will attack, so we will have to work hard to go with and stay with them," he said of racing against 15 teams in the prestigious event.
Crome, 20, is in the first year of Bachelor of Nursing at La Trobe University Bendigo and will race the Bendigo International Madison for the second time.