It’s 9.30 and I’m just up, Kris sleeps in the camper van here at the Grenoble Six Day 2006. He says it’s more comfortable, but I think it’s because I snore so badly. It was interesting at breakfast today; the guys were talking about what they did before they were full-time pro cyclists.

Michael Mørkøv was a carpenter; he served a four year apprenticeship whilst Marvulli was an electrician.  He reckons he pedals fast because he never wants to be installing mobile phone antenae on roofs in the depths of winter again.

Grenoble Six Day 2006
Paolo Bettini’s 2007 Specialized.

Monday is a bad day to try and get the groceries organized. In France, most of the shops are shut and the queues in the super markets are grim, an hour just evaporates, as it did this morning.

Sorry, but I have to name-drop BIG here, I was just chatting to Paolo Bettini about his new Specialized road bike for 2007, he has been trying it out around the velodrome to get his position right.

Very tall and very small guys, like Bettini, have to be careful not to fall foul of the UCI regulations on bike dimensions so Paolo and his mechanic are getting things set-up; a little tweak then a few laps, then more of the same.

I got a couple of pics of the velo but he wouldn’t let me take shots of him beside it – Time who are Quick Step’s frame suppliers until the end of 2006 might get a bit upset.

The word is that Patrick Lefevre, the Big Boss of the Quick Step team said he would only change frame sponsors if a seven figure sum in euros was offered. Specialized must have deep pockets, because the change has duly been made. The test bike was black, but Bettini will be on a white frame for 2007 with the team on red.

I got my five minutes with Bettini…Marco Villa can be a grumpy dude but I always get-along just fine with him; he translated for me with Bettini; “nada” he says, “it’s nothing”, when I thanked him. The interview can be seen here.

Grenoble Six Day 2006
Marco Villa with six partner and world champ Paolo Bettini.

Bettini was polite but he’ll be sick of interviews, especially with a language barrier and me in my runner’s gear of tee-shirt and baggy shorts.

Proper French cycling journos have intense demeanours, wear black suits, chain smoke and read philosophy.

Le Clemenceau, 17.10 sitting outside with my presion – what more could a man want?

Feeding time, 18.00, the guys had a salad with lettuce, tomato and mozarella; chicken fillets with spaghetti then an apple tart for dinner. Coke, Sprite, Fanta and mineral water are the drinks; four days in and we’ve used 26 big bottles of Fanta so far.

Track-side 20.15, at a time when most folks are settled in front of the tele with a cup of tea or glass of red, the six-day guys are just starting work. Morale in the camp is good though because the end is in sight and tomorrow is pay day.

The presentation has started, the cabins are tidy, all the food and drink has been topped-up and there’s nice ocean-fresh disinfectant in the pee pails – it’s show time!

Talking of the show; it’s a live jazz band who provide the music, complete with attractive, busty, perma-smiling blonde on the squeeze box. I prefer the North European way with 70’s disco music, it’s a better accompaniment for the racing I think, plus it takes me back to my youth.

The racing wasn’t great tonight, I enjoyed the sprinters most; tomorrow there’s a “proper” 180 lap chase, maybe that will excite me. It was Franco’s turn for “controle”, six beers later he managed to pee and I got to bed for 3.30 am.

Last day – it’s not a big programme and there’s no washing to do so – happy days!