THE BIG INTERVIEW: FRANCO MARVULLI
Franco Marvulli believes he and partner Bruno Risi can handle the pressure of being gold medal favourites for the Madison in Beijing next year.
Silver medal winners at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Swiss star and his colleague will be looking to go one better and secure the only major medal that is missing from the 29 year old’s trophy cabinet back in Zurich.
He and Risi took their third World Championship gold in Palma de Majorca this year, adding to the first place they achieved in the Madison in Stuttgart in 2003. Marvulli also won gold in the individual scratch race at Stuttgart, while he was similarly placed in the same event in Copenhagen in 2002.
But finishing his career without that missing medal would be like having a smile with a missing tooth and, as Britain will be gunning for a clean sweep of gold medals in London 2012, Beijing may be Marvulli’s best chance to grab that gong.
So dedicated to the Madison is Marvulli that he has opted out of the points race in China to concentrate solely on the one event with Risi. But he is taking nothing for granted, even though the pair are odds-on favourites for the top spot.
CW: Do you consider yourselves gold medallists in Beijing?
FM It is very difficult to say. If you are in another event, you know what time you can do and you can tell already before the start if you are realistically able to make a medal or not. In the Madison, you can be the strongest team on paper and still finish 10th in the classification. It is very hard to tell because anything can happen in that event.
But you are the reigning world champions so you must be the people to beat?
FM On paper, for sure, we are one of the favourite teams to be world champions, but there are so many good teams, from so many countries, that could win the Olympics. Nobody
can be said to be favourites in this event.
Pressure can tell on your chances of gold too, can’t it?
FM Yes it can, but we have had that pressure already for a long time, since the last Worlds. I think we managed it really well in Palma de Majorca and also in the six-days. The pressure is always there and we are starting to get used to it. The Olympics are so special, though, so I can’t tell now whether the pressure will affect us.
You have put in an enormous amount of cycling over the years, and 2007 is no exception. Do you think your legs will take you to a fifth Olympic Games after London, putting you in the Hall of Fame alongside such legends as Sir Steve Redgrave?
FM I’ve already ridden at Sydney and Athens, and Beijing is going to be my third Olympics. I’m going to be in London in 2012 for sure, as long as the form is good enough, and then I’m going to decide what I’m going to do after that. But that’s many years away, so it’s difficult to say.
Over here in Britain, our track teams prepared for Athens by practising at the Welsh National Velodrome in Newport with the heaters on full to mimic the conditions in Greece. Will your country be doing the same in your preparations for China?
FM No, I don’t think we will. We will just practice as normal.
One of your biggest challenges for the Olympic Madison will come from the
Brits you regularly ride against at the Revolution meetings. How do you rate their chances?
FM Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Rob Hayles are very good riders in the Madison, they showed that in Athens and at the Worlds in Los Angeles. We know they are strong and we have to look at them as real contenders for the title. We don’t get the chance to race much against them and study them, but we can be sure that when they come to the Olympics, they are going to be 100 per cent fit and will be very tough to beat, so we have to try and be at our best as well.