It’s 3:00 pm on Saturday and time for my ‘pression’ – draught beer – at Bar Clémenceau, I coincide this with a trip to the shops, so as not to arouse too much suspicion.
The weather is glorious, despite the carpet of leaves on many of the side walks, it’s like a Scottish summer day.
Shorts are fine – essential in the heat of the velodrome – in the sunshine and the frantic Grenoble traffic is on valium for the day.
Last night saw things get down to brass tacks – there are really only two teams who can win; Marvulli/Roberts or Keisse/Meersman.
In all, four teams want to be on the podium, the two named above plus Van Bon/Vermeulen and Madsen/Kreutzfeldt.
‘Experts’ will tell you that sixes are all ‘fixed’ – explain that to the French guys who can’t even hold their place in the string; or closer to home – Bob Hayles and Mark Cavendish, who lost 32 laps at Gent, with the rainbow jerseys of world madison champions on their backs.
Laurent Biondi was world pro points champion, Bernard Thevenet won two Tours de France; you can’t blag the guys that are running this six – as my old dad used to say; “never kid a kidder.”
They want a show; the public have paid for a show and, believe it or not, the best guys don’t feel comfortable with hollow wins.
Whilst the racing here isn’t as ‘chase centred’ as at other sixes – there’s only one 35 minute madison each night – the riders make good money on their points totals, accrued in devils, points and time trials. This makes for better than usual racing in these supporting races – pros race for money!
The devils are hotly contested, Tour de France Daniel Mangeas dishes out the bad news; “descende!” – ‘come down !’
This got me to thinking about the time I rode Dundee track league, back in the 80’s.
Someone was eliminated in the devil, but wouldn’t ‘descende!’ Bob Morgan, the organiser took to the track with a yard brush to persuade the errant coureur that retiral was, in fact, the best course of action.
The cabaret acts are all very good, this year – I’ve taken a few snaps but my pass doesn’t get me in to that part of the track centre.
Kris was telling me that race personnel used to be allowed in to sample the buffet.
However, Michael Hubner – the German sprint star – and his amigos made such beasts of themselves that the organisation banished cyclists and their staff from the centre forever.
One of the Belgian runners got past the guard to go and empty his rubbish box into the big bins in the centre – the instant he deviated to the cheese counter however, he was collared faster than you can say, ‘camembert.’
There has to be big money being made on the catering – it’s like the Berlin airlift; food and drink shipments are constantly arriving and whilst the stands may not be full, the 100 or-so ten placing track centre tables are fully booked – at 50 euros per setting.
It’s 5:45 pm and time to get organised – hope you like the pics.