Top guns back on track to chase Bendigo International Madison glory

Swiss star Franco Marvulli heads the 13 overseas cycling stars who will contest next month’s Bendigo International Madison.A world madison champion in 2003 and ’07, Marvulli is desperate to etch his name on the Bendigo classic’s honour roll.The race on March 11 will live up to its international moniker, with seven countries represented in the 16-team field.A silver medallist in the madison at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Marvulli first raced on Bendigo’s track in 1999.This time he will team with countryman Loic Perizollo, one of many in the race for the first time.Bendigo International Madison CEO Rik McCaig said riders from Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Austria and Czech Republic are in the field.“For the first time in many years there will be no previous Bendigo International Madison winners on the track.“Although we don’t have the world champions Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer in the race, it’s still a superb field,” McCaig said.“In recent years there’s probably been three or four standout teams, but I believe five or six teams are in with a great chance of winning.”He said cyclists to watch included New Zealand’s Shane Archbold, Germany’s Leif Lampater and Christian Grassman, and the all-Czech team of Milan Kadlee and Martin Blaha.Several of the internationals will use Bendigo’s race in the build-up to April’s world track cycling championships in Melbourne.Leon Van Bon from the Netherlands will be back and will race with one of Australia’s young guns, Caleb Ewan. Earlier this summer, Ewan impressed many as he won two legs in the Jayco Bay Classic criterium series.The Law brothers, Jackson and Scott will pit their sprinting and pursuiting skills against the likes of Bendigo’s Jamie Crass and David Pell, and Brendan Schultz and Jarrod Moroni.Castlemaine’s Sean Finning won the points score at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and has the strength to match many opponents.Finning will team with Bendigo’s George Tansley, who is now based in South Australia.Horsham’s Mark O’Brien and Sam Witmitz have achieved great success on Bendigo’s track and will not be daunted by the 200-lap battle.Bendigo clubmtes Sam Crome and Todd Schintler will contest their hometown’s biggest race for the first time.Schintler’s father, Terry, racked up many starts in the Bendigo International Madison and is a key off-track figure for the club.The four-day carnival starts on Thursday night where the Frank McCaig Memorial Wheelrace (1600m) will be contested at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.