The crowd is good, the riders’ contracts have been paid, there’s one more procession, one last picture of the Folies girls, I’ve polished Jens’ and Franco’s bikes, most of the stuff is out of the big cabin, the strongmen are going through their routine and there’s a buzz in the air.

The programme is short – just a 25 lap sprint series with points every five laps; the flying three lap time trial and then the big one – ‘180 tours pro madison’ with sprints on 120, 140 and 160 for 5, 3, 2, 1 points and ‘points doublé lors du sprint de l’arrivée de 6 jours.’

The riders line up on the back straight.
The riders line up on the back straight. (click for the full image)

I’m looking forward to it; more so because we’re spending the night here and don’t have to rush away straight after the chase – I’ll be able to watch, not load the camper as usually happens during the last chase.

Thevenet, Marc and Jens.
Thevenet, Marc and Jens. (click for the full image)

Our boy Jens-Erik Madsen and partner Marc Hester lead for Denmark, level on laps and points with the Italians Elia Viviani & Angelo Ciccone – but we have yellow in the cabin, always nice.

The sprinters hurtle by in the Keirin as I write this – Teun Mulder takes it.

The Keirin thunders past.
The Keirin thunders past. (click for the full image)

The boys are up next for the sprint series – and stay in yellow.

Sprinter time, the citizens of Grenoble love the big fellows; when six of then go past ‘full gas’ in the keirin, it’s like a runaway train passing.

Perkeenz!

Big Shane does the business for the Antipodes.

Max Levy just bristles with power.
Max Levy just bristles with power. (click for the full image)

With no mechanic, tyre pressures are one more thing to worry about for us – but the Italian mechanics are good guys; ‘14 bars?

Si, no problem!

Mechanic Dirk is a good guy.
Mechanic Dirk is a good guy.

More strongmen; the organisers must have got a good price if they take four acts.

Just the time trial to go before the big one.

Viviani takes his team through the first lap under 12 seconds, Ciccone holds the momentum and German Team Sprint World Champion Maximillian Levy doesn’t fold on that 52 x 14 – he drives all the way.

Viviani, Ciccone, and Levy make an amazing team.
Viviani, Ciccone, and Levy make an amazing team. (click for the full image)

Bang!

Fastest, for the third night running.

Kris and Robert d'Hondt talk bike racing.
Kris and Robert d'Hondt talk bike racing. (click for the full image)

More strongmen – next year I’m going to offer the organisers a ‘wimps’ act – you can have too many shaved chests and bulging biceps.

Sprinter time again and the big Aussie Shane is too quick for world champion Bauge, in the final.

The Folies girls do their thing one more time, whilst Danny Stam revs out on the rollers.

Danny ignores the show, and gets on with his warm up.
Danny ignores the show, and gets on with his warm up.

One more keirin, one more strong man act and the pros are up already, rolling around the bottom of the track – it’s better than sitting waiting.

180 on the board, the gun fires and within 45 minutes or so we’ll know who the winner is.

The start is quick, then it looks like it settles down; but Daniel Mangeas tells us that the average is 54 kph.

I sneak off the ‘gods’ to get some pictures of the track – it’s high, up there.

Aha, here's where the Crazy Band sits.
Aha, here's where the Crazy Band sits. (click for the full image)
A different perspective from our usual 'behind the scenes'.
A different perspective from our usual 'behind the scenes'. (click for the full image)
A cheeky shot of Kris, guarding the bikes.
A cheeky shot of Kris, guarding the bikes.

Some of the French guys explode like Roman candles; losing a lap in less time than it takes to write it – then the pain of holding the string and remembering to switch to the ‘live’ wheel starts all over again.

Into the last 50 laps; De Ketele’s chest heaves as he takes his spell out.

The six days of racing has built to a really exciting finale.
The six days of racing has built to a really exciting finale. (click for the full image)
The winner still isn't known halfway through the final event.
The winner still isn't known halfway through the final event. (click for the full image)

First sprint – the Italians.

Second sprint and the band goes bananas – get a drugs tester up there – Hester/Madsen.

They can win it.

There’s a lull – two teams go clear.

Franco and Danny Stam are clear – Jens & Marc chase, and chase, and chase.

There’s no help guys, you wear the yellow jerseys, you’re the leaders – it’s all down to you.

The Danes are gallant but two young bucks can’t hold off four wily old foxes.

The junction is made, too late for Jens and Marc to get it back – Marvulli takes the last sprint before the finish.

The French guys think about those crisp Euro notes for their points at the finish – it’s all that keeps them going.

Danny and Van Bon lead by one point; 20 tours to go and it’s all on the line.

Van Bon goes for a long one but Franco is on him – the effort will see him coughing his insides out for hours after the race – and down the home straight the big man finds the speed that’s made him four times world champion – number six!

Une victoire historique!‘ Daniel Mangeas tells us – for sure.

Maybe third is not so bad, eh.
Maybe third is not so bad, eh. (click for the full image)
Franco is delighted with his 30th Six Day win.
Franco is delighted with his 30th Six Day win. (click for the full image)

Flowers, smiles, interviews, Folies girls, podiums, speeches, confetti, flash guns – Franco Marvulli, Switzerland, 95 six day starts, 12 third places, 21 second places and 30 wins.

See you at Gent?

Franco talks to the press, but gets a pleasant change from VeloVeritas.
Franco talks to the press, but gets a pleasant change from VeloVeritas.
Franco and Alex on the top step of the podium.
Franco and Alex on the top step of the podium. (click for the full image)
C'ést fini.
C'ést fini. (click for the full image)
Gent next stop.
Gent next stop. (click for the full image)

Results

Points Race

1 Jens-Erik Madsen / Marc Hester (Den) 9 pts
2 Danny Stam / Leon Van Bon (Ned) 8
3 François Lamiraud / Florent Ivars (Fra) 8
4 Wim Stroetinga / Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) 7
5 Angelo Ciccone / Elia Viviani (Ita) 7
6 Alexander Aeschbach / Franco Marvulli (Swi) 6
7 Kevin Fouache / Jules Pijourlet (Fra) 4
8 Mickaël Jeannin / Morgan Kneisky (Fra) 3
9 Jiri Hochmann / Milan Kadlec (Cze) 2
10 Tim Mertens / Kenny de Ketele (Bel) 1
11 Pierre-Luc Perichon / Sebastien Ivars (Fra)

Team Time Trial

1 Angelo Ciccone / Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:00:35.270
2 Mickaël Jeannin / Morgan Kneisky (Fra) 0:00:35.981
3 Alexander Aeschbach / Franco Marvulli (Swi) 0:00:36.149
4 Danny Stam / Leon Van Bon (Ned) 0:00:37.203
5 Jiri Hochmann / Milan Kadlec (Cze) 0:00:37.310
6 Pierre-Luc Perichon / Sebastien Ivars (Fra) 0:00:38.013
7 Jens-Erik Madsen / Marc Hester (Den) 0:00:38.080

Madison

1 Alexander Aeschbach / Franco Marvulli (Swi) 20 pts
2 Danny Stam / Leon Van Bon (Ned) 12
3 Tim Mertens / Kenny de Ketele (Bel) 10
4 Jens-Erik Madsen / Marc Hester (Den) 8 -1lap
5 Angelo Ciccone / Elia Viviani (Ita) 6
6 Jiri Hochmann / Milan Kadlec (Cze) 4
7 Mickaël Jeannin / Morgan Kneisky (Fra)
8 Wim Stroetinga / Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) -2laps
9 Pierre-Luc Perichon / Sebastien Ivars (Fra) -3laps
10 Kevin Fouache / Jules Pijourlet (Fra)
11 François Lamiraud / Florent Ivars (Fra) -4laps

Final standings after Night 6

1 Alexander Aeschbach / Franco Marvulli (Swi) 289 pts
2 Danny Stam / Leon Van Bon (Ned) 275
At 1 Lap
3 Jens-Erik Madsen / Marc Hester (Den) 284
4 Angelo Ciccone / Elia Viviani (Ita) 277
5 Tim Mertens / Kenny de Ketele (Bel) 276
At 3 Laps
6 Jiri Hochmann / Milan Kadlec (Cze) 178
At 4 Laps
7 Mickaël Jeannin / Morgan Kneisky (Fra) 170
At 9 Laps
8 Wim Stroetinga / Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) 135
At 16 Laps
9 Pierre-Luc Perichon / Sebastien Ivars (Fra) 50
At 19 Laps
10 Kevin Fouache / Jules Pijourlet (Fra) 67
At 23 Laps
11 François Lamiraud / Florent Ivars (Fra) 69

VeloVeritas have left the building.
VeloVeritas have left the building. (click for the full image)