The Belgian papers covering the Gent Six Day are something else.

Whilst you do get superb cycling coverage; in yesterday’s ‘De Gentenaar’ we had to endure a colour photograph of a fatal road accident, complete with burnt out car and mangled push bike; a racist photo manipulation of Michelle Obama as a character from Planet of the Apes and images from a slaughter house, including a cow getting it’s head chopped off – I’ll stick with the Guardian.

THe local paper, a mixture of sports and the bizarre.
The local paper, a mixture of sports and the bizarre.

My tortured old body is getting into the routine, now. It was 03:30 am when we got to bed; we could have been in bed before that, but a beer was necessary.

The young guy round at the VIP bar knows a man with a drooth when he sees one and slides those tall glasses of pils across the counter top with a smile.

People say; ‘what is it you do at one of these races, you must go out and have a beer, or a meal ?’

The alarm goes at 10.00; last night, tonight and tomorrow the racing doesn’t end until 02:00 am.

Emergency! We're about to run out of beer!
Emergency! We’re about to run out of beer!
It's okay - we've made sure that doesn't happen again.
It’s okay – we’ve made sure that doesn’t happen again.

First up is to sort out the washing; we wash all of the guys’ kit every night, no matter how late – three under vests, three jerseys, shorts, socks and mitts for each rider.

We hand wash them but have a small spin drier which does a good job. All of the clothes have to be hung on hangers to dry.

In the morning everything has to be neatly folded, ready for the evening. Then the track side cabins have to be tidied; food, drink and cologne all topped up.

Shopping next, bakers, butchers, supermarket.

Steaks for the boys.
Steaks for the boys.

By then, it’s usually the back of lunch time and there’s a lull which enables me to put the pictures on the laptop, edit and send them – to VR and Pez.

The riders start arriving around three or four for massage.

Michael gets a rub from Kris.
Michael gets a rub from Kris.

I have to be on hand to run any errands.

Franco makes Ed a coffee to help him along.
Franco makes Ed a coffee to help him along.

Late in the afternoon I pack the riders’ track bags – one vest, one jersey plus their socks and shorts stay in the cabin.

The rest, including helmets and shoes, has to be taken up to the track and laid out.

Helmets and shoes all have to be cleaned.

Vermelen grabs some grub.
Vermelen grabs some grub.

The guys eat at five and the dishes have to be washed and dried.

Whilst the under 23 six is on, I get a bit of time to myself to write.

While Ed writes his diary, Franco watches the amateurs.
While Ed writes his diary, Franco watches the amateurs.

Then the drinks – tea and isotonic, have to be prepared and brought up from the cabin to track side.

The riders presentation is at 20:00 and I check to make sure that everything is in order; there’s always something to do.

Tonight (Friday), for example, with only a few minutes to the presentation, the organisers decided that they wanted Alex and Michael’s jerseys back – one of the sponsor’s logos was wrong; a pain in the bum and we’ll have to put fresh Saxo Bank logos on the new ones.

The rolling presentation you see at most sixes.
The rolling presentation you see at most sixes. (click for the full image)

Once the race starts, that’s it – change the rider’s vests and jersey after wiping them down with cologne; keep the vest and jersey drying situation under control at the tumble drier; feed and water the guys; push them into the fray; haul them back out of it; push off in the Derny races, if we have a rider up; organise the drinks for the chases and run any errands – like buying burgers for our tea!

Ed looks after Franco with drinks and a towel. (click for the full image)
Ed looks after Franco with drinks and a towel.
The huge crowd in the track centre. (click for the full image)
The huge crowd in the track centre. (click for the full image)

And so it goes on until the last race; the guys just drop everything and bolt for the cabin – and their grub.

Chow time for the guys.
Chow time for the guys.

I tidy the chaos then bring the clothes down for washing.

I help Kris with that, then wash up the dishes from the meal Kris has made them.

Leon asks Patrick if he really does have to get a haircut.
Leon asks Patrick if he really does have to get a haircut.

By then, 3:00 am is looming – and that’s when I get that beer.

The aftermath.
The aftermath.

After the second chase, the guys are all pretty tired and the ensuing ‘afvaling’ (devil), Derny and ‘klassementsprinten’ (sprint series) aren’t too hotly contested.

But by the time midnight comes around, most of the audience are drunk and/or exhausted.

The track centre has been crazy the last two nights.

Rumour control says that 1,200 is the maximum number for the ‘middenplein’ but there have 1500 in there – I believe it!

The beer just flows and flows and by the end the place is swimming in Pils and the floor is thick with plastic cups.

The racing doesn’t seem mega hard, but with two chases each night, the speed, heat, G-forces, tiredness and heavy air slowly catch up with all but the very best.

At the start of tonight (nite 4, Friday) it’s like this:

  • 0: Keisse + Kluge 223 points
  • 0: Risi + Franco 201
  • 1: Razi + Michael 210
  • 1: De Ketele + Bartko 124
Keisse and Kluge take the applause.
Keisse and Kluge take the applause.

It’s down to the first three teams, though – we’ve just heard that Bartko is neutralised and De Ketele goes with Schep, who himself is just back from neutralisation.

Best check the tumble drier, there’s guys need jerseys here, you know!

'Til tomorrow.
‘Til tomorrow.

Results

Points race
1 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen 10pts
2 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK 6
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 5
4 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 4
5 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 3
6 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 2
7 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen
8 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas
9 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned)/Peter Schep (Ned) Topsport Vlaanderen
10 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur
11 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less
12 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS

Team elimination
1 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 20pts
2 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 12
3 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas 10
4 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 8
5 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur 6
6 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK 4
7 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less
8 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS
9 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen
10 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey
11 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen
12 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned)/Peter Schep (Ned) Topsport Vlaanderen

One lap time trial
1 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 10pts
2 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 6
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 5
4 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas 4
5 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 3
6 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK 2
7 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur
8 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank
9 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS
10 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink
11 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

Madison 1
1 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 20pts
2 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 12
One lap down
3 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 10
4 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 8
5 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 6
Two laps down
6 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 4
7 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur
Three laps down
8 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas
9 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS
Five laps down
10 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK
11 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

Derny 1
1 Steven De Neef 5pts
2 Glenn O’Shea 4
3 Leon van Bon 3
4 Alexander Aeschbach 2
5 Gert-Jan Jonkman 1
6 Ingmar De Poortere

Elimination
1 Marc Hester 10:  pts
2 Andreas Müller 6
3 Leigh Howard 5
4 Nicky Cocquyt 4
5 Danny Stam 3
6 Steve Schets 2
7 Robert Bartko
8 Bruno Risi
9 Michael Morkov
10 Roger Kluge
11 Tristan Marguet
12 Peter Schep

Derny 2
1 Iljo Keisse 5pts
2 Kenny De Ketele 4
3 Alex Rasmussen 3
4 Jeff Vermeulen 2
5 Leif Lampater 1
6 Franco Marvulli

500m time trial
1 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 20pts
2 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 12
3 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 10
4 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 8
5 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 6
6 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS 4
7 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas
8 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK
9 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen
10 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur
11 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink
12 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned)/Peter Schep (Ned) Topsport Vlaanderen

Madison 2
1 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 20pts
2 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 12
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 10
4 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 8
5 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 6
One lap down
6 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas 4
7 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur
Two laps down
8 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank
9 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS
Four laps behind
10 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK
11 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

Derny 3
1 Michael Morkov 5pts
2 Bruno Risi 4
3 Roger Kluge 3
4 Danny Stam 2
5 Bartko 1

Elimination
1 Glenn O’Shea 10pts
2 Kenny De Ketele 6
3 Alexander Aeschbach 5
4 Leon Van Bon 4
5 Ingmar De Poortere 3
6 Steven De Neef 2
7 Gert-Jan Jonkman
8 Jeff Vermeulen
9 Iljo Keisse
10 Leif Lampater
11 Alex Rasmussen
12 Franco Marvulli

Derny 4
1 Andreas Müller 5pts
2 Marc Hester 4
3 Leigh Howard 3
4 Nicky Cocquyt 2
5 Tristan Marguet 1
6 Steve Schets

Sprint standings
1 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur 16pts
2 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK 15
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 6
4 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 5
5 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned)/Peter Schep (Ned) Topsport Vlaanderen 5
6 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS 4
7 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 4
8 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen 3
9 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas 3
10 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 2
11 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 2
12 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 1

Standings after night three
1 Iljo Keisse (Bel)/Roger Kluge (Ger) Mega Deschacht — John Saey 223pts
2 Bruno Risi (Swi)/Franco Marvulli (Swi) Knokse Bandencentrale — Eurotyre 201
One lap down
3 Alex Rasmussen (Den)/Michael Morkov (Den) Callant Verzekeringen — Wire-less 210
4 Kenny De Ketele (Bel)/Robert Bartko (Ger) Mercator Verzekeringen 124
Two laps down
5 Danny Stam (Ned)/Leif Lampater (Ger) Ploeg AA Drink 137
Five laps down
6 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned)/Peter Schep (Ned) Topsport Vlaanderen 80
Ten laps down
7 Glenn O’Shea (Aus)/Leigh Howard (Aus) VDK Spaarbank 110
8 Leon Van Bon (Ned)/Andreas Müller (Ger) Caruur 64
Eleven laps down
9 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi)/Tristan Marguet (Swi) Geka Kaas 69
Nineteen laps down
10 Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned)/Marc Hester (Den) AVS 60
Twenty five laps down
11 Ingmar Depoortere (Bel)/Nicky Cocquyt (Bel) Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen 36
Thirty five laps down
12 Steven Deneef (Bel)/Steve Schets (Bel) JDK 58