“It’s not a real Six,” says our pal Viktor – coincidentally, riders like Marc Hester (Denmark) and Danny Stam (Holland) used to say the same.
But that was before the Munich Six disappeared – now they’re more than happy to head south to Grenoble at the end of October.
“Real” Six or not, the list of winners is pretty damn impressive – Post, Merckx, Sercu, Moser, Doyle, Clark, Baffi, Villa, Marvulli, Gilmore, Keisse, Rasmussen and Morkov.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve been here, but it’s never disappointing to drive down the valley road between the limestone cliffs and snow capped peaks beyond, to the ‘Capital of the Alps.’
Bar Clemenceau is still there and so is the Pizzeria Du Vel D’Hiv – ‘Pizzeria of the Winter Track.’
The stadium – Velodrome des Alpes – is spectacular, concrete shells sweep to the sky and look like they belong among the jagged peaks which ring the city.
Every year the guy on the gate tells us; ‘you’re not on the list,’ and we have to summon Laurent Biondi get us in.
We haven’t got our usual cabin; we’re in the one next door, it was Iljo’s cabin last year – where he celebrated “getting off” with his ‘contaminated food’ defence, the ‘Iljo’ sticker is still on the shelf.
The trouble is that the celebration was a year too early – his image is in the programme.
But Kenny de Ketele rides with Tim Mertens, not Iljo.
We have just two riders, this year – Franco Marvulli and Jens-Erik Madsen.
Jens-Erik was one of the winning Danish team pursuit squad at the 2009 Worlds – he’s strong, smooth and fast.
Franco rides with Alexander Aeschbach; a man who has partnered him to four of his five wins here – Aussie team pursuiter, Luke Roberts was the man who paired him to number five.
The main opposition comes from Dutchman Leon Van Bon – who has re-invented himself as a six day rider – partnered with compatriot and 15 times a six day winner, Danny Stam.
The sprinters’ field is very strong – world champion, Gregory Bauge; world record holder, Kevin Sireau; world kilo champion, Teun Mulder and Commonwealth Games sprint king, Shane Perkins.
The TV cameras are in place, the band are rehearsing hard [they need to] and the list of winners has been up dated.
We’ve got our creds, the cabin is set up – all we need are some riders.
They’ll be here tomorrow; bon nuit, mes amis, Ã demain.