PEZ Talk: Fabulous Franco Marvulli
With just a few hours to go before the madison which saw Switzerland’s double world scratch and madison champion and Olympic madison silver medallist, Franco Marvulli take victory in the 40th edition of the Six Days of Grenoble, the big man from Zurich took time to talk to PEZ about the current six day scene.
PEZ: Remind us of your six day stats please, Franco.
Franco Marvulli: 94 starts, 29 wins, 21 seconds and 12 thirds (make that 95 starts and 30 wins).
I like to look at stats, it’s fun, but it’s not possible to compare across the different eras – of course it’s nice to have good stats but it’s not the be all and end all.
PEZ: The last time we spoke to you was in Trinidad, back in April – what have you been up to?
FM: I haven’t really had a big break from racing, I’ve ridden a lot of criteriums at home in Switzerland and track events, of course. And I raced in the New Caledonia, that was nice.
PEZ: Risi has retired, are things different?
FM: There have only been a couple of sixes since his last race so it’s hard to say. I started riding the six days 11 years ago and in that time a lot of big riders have retired, Martinello, Slippens, McGrory, Gilmore – but the sixes go on, they didn’t become different because any of those riders retired.
PEZ: How was Amsterdam?
FM: It was great, for a good evening of entertainment it’s hard to beat going to a six day. Bos not riding didn’t help and there was no Bettini for example, but I think the organisers were satisfied with the crowds.
PEZ: Grenoble certainly seems healthy.
FM: I think it’s improved from last year, Guy Chanal and Bernard Thevenet are both happy.
It’s not like 10 years ago, but that was a golden era for French track sport – guys like Jerome Neuville, Robert Sassone and Franck Perque were all good in the chases and of course they had great sprinters too, like Florian Rousseau and Laurent Gane.
PEZ: Will we ever see the big road guys back in the sixes.
FM: Big names don’t necessarily get more people in, but they generate more media attention and that helps with the sponsors, of course.
But it’s hard for the road pros, you can’t just ride one six it would be really hard, you have to find your legs – and that takes a few races.
Marvulli recently paired with Niki Terpstra at the Amsterdam Six.
PEZ: Will Alexander Aeschbach be your regular partner, again?
FM: We will race together, yes, but a lot depends on sponsors’ and organisers’ requirements.
PEZ: You won the Tilburg six with the young Swiss, Tristan Marguet, last season.
FM: Tristan is good, he’s quick but his riding characteristics are too similar to mine, I need someone solid for the chases.
Marguet for the future for sure – but he has to make his own way, learn to do it by himself.
PEZ: What encourages you about the sport.
FM: There are still young guys pushing to come in, even though the sixes go up and down a little, there are still new riders coming along.
PEZ: And what disappoints?
FM: When races go it reduces the possibilities for riders. Cycling has problems getting folks to spend money, but apart from soccer I think that many sports are the same.
But then, even soccer has problems – when the European Championships were in Switzerland, the stadiums weren’t full.
You can go to a public viewing in a square or at a bar, meet your friends and have a drink, a lot of people like to do that.
And there’s so much choice of sport with satellite TV.
I think that the organisers are changing the races to suit the changes in public taste, maybe a little slowly, but they’re changing, giving the public what they want.
PEZ: What about the World Cups clashing with sixes and the Worlds being in the spring?
FM: It’s not good, when the track Worlds and the World Cups were in the summer, it worked well – certainly I was more successful.
And another factor now is that it’s very hard to come straight into the World Cups from the sixes because the gears are so much higher.
PEZ: Is it still possible to ride a six day season and win a world track championship?
FM: Yes, we did it in the madison in 2007, but there’s not a lot of time to recover after the sixes then prepare for the Worlds – you could miss a few sixes to prepare for the Worlds but you have to ask, even if you won medals would that make up with bigger contract fees for what you lost by missing races?
It’s not something you would do every year.
PEZ: What don’t you like about the six days?
FM: Sometimes you just function, you don’t see the sun; and of course, you’re away from home a lot, maybe in some hotel in the middle of nowhere.
PEZ: What do you like?
FM: I love to be around people, to meet old friends to experience the ambiance – but all of that only applies if you have good form!
PEZ: You’re privately sponsored, doesn’t that mean organisational hassle and isn’t the UCI becoming more and more team oriented?
FM: Organisationally I guess it would be easier to be with a team but I’m glad I’ve followed the path I have.
As well as freedom to ride where I want it’s given me a lot of invaluable life experience – you have to learn how to deal with people and how to negotiate.
I’d advise all track riders to try it – it makes you self sufficient; if you look at some of the football players they have everything done for them and when they quit the sport they can’t fend for themselves.
As for the UCI, with the type of races I ride, it’s not a problem.
PEZ: Any unfinished business in cycling?
FM: The Olympics for sure are an objective – a dream. With the removal of the distance races from the Olympic programme, I’ll be concentrating on the omnium.
I have to be realistic about it, but I’d like to win a medal, there. I’ve reached all the other goals I’ve set myself.
I’d also like to finish the sport on my terms, I wouldn’t want to end my career because of an accident as I’ve seen happen to other riders.
I want to look back on my career and say; ‘yeah, I enjoyed that.’
With thanks to Franco for his time and congratulations on win number 30.