Bar Clemenceau was open again today, for our afternoon ‘snifter’ here at the Grenoble Six Day.
The bar tender must have had a heavy Sunday session, he was asleep at one of his own tables. I went for a Ricard today; it reminded me of the time John and I were in the Bar Britanique on Alpe d’Huez.
We drank so much pastis that we only just made it outside in time to catch Pantani on his way to the stage win – those were the days!
The other excitement today, was the news that Iljo Keisse ‘beat the wrap,’ avoided the gallows and can race on to finish Grenoble then get into top shape for his home Six at Gent.
I interviewed him, not long after the verdict came through – we knew he’d got a result because we could hear the cheers coming through from the Belgian cabin, next door.
As soon as the result hit the internet, folks were getting in touch.
Viktor called, he reckons it’s a triumph for common sense, catching everyone for minor infringements is all very well.
But soon, there’ll be no teams or races left for the ‘clean’ guys to compete in – all the sponsors will have been scared off by the scandals.
Long time Six Day fan, and a man who’s entitled to an opinion because he travels all over Europe to watch the Sixes, Stuart Anthony, reckons there was never any doubt that Iljo was a victim of circumstance and is just happy that Gent won’t be the disaster it would have been without its home star.
Our pal Dave Chapman thinks he wriggled off the hook on a technicality.
VeloVeritas Editor, Martin, is thinking along similar lines and picked up a few subtleties in the wording of the hearing’s verdict – but I’ll let him tell you what he thinks, himself.
I have mixed feelings; on the one hand, the doping thing has to stop, you only have to look at Germany to see how detrimental it is to the sport.
But there’s merit in what Viktor says – is it better to nail Iljo on what has to rank as a very minor infringement and have the Gent arena a ghost town?
Or – and bearing in mind that the man has been cleared – accept that something may have been going down; but it’s very unlikely that it will happen again and Gent will be a sell out at a time when Six Day sport is really struggling.
My vote is with the latter.
I remember, a few years ago, at the Berlin six day, Iljo’s mechanic, Ken Illegems fitted the wrong gear to the young Belgian’s Merckx for a derny race.
Iljo give him a very angry, public and unprofessional rebuke.
The man I interviewed yesterday wasn’t the same one I saw in action in Berlin.
On the subject of interviews, I caught up with the young US guys too, yesterday. They were racing with James McCallum and Evan Oliphant in Columbia, recently.
None of the Europeans won much money, though – that went to the home boys. According to Guy East, the Colombians were taking full advantage of one of the country’s major exports – ’nuff said!
But back to the fun and frivolity of Grenoble; the French mechanic let me have a good look at Bauge’s Look (no pun intended,) today.
It’s a tool, no question – but whilst the sprinter’s bikes might look cool in the mags and on TV; in the flesh, they’re well battle-scarred, like some old pit bull who’s had a fight or two too many.
Tristan showed up with new Oakley Jaw Bones, today – I’m not daft on that style, but the red and white is cool with the red and white Swiss colours.
Tristan and Aeschi took over the points jerseys last night. It’s always good to have a jersey in the cabin, and flowers on the cabin roof.
I must have missed Frenchman Morgan Kneisky winning the scratch race at the Worlds, in Poland – he wears his rainbow skinsuit in the scratch races here, I like that.
Arnaud Tournant popped in tonight, besuited and with the ‘upmarket night club bouncer’ look; last time I was here, he was burning the track down.
High spot of the whole night however, was the silver dress worn by the singer – I even forgave her for murdering a Gloria Gaynor song.