It’s 11:29 on Sunday, somewhere on an autobahn in Bavaria. The Zürich Four Day 2011 finished at 02:30 but it was around 03:45 before we got away from the track.

We parked up at 05:00 at a motorway services and rose at 10:15; we’re en route Düsseldorf, which will take us the best part of the day.

It’s all part of the game.

Zürich Four Day 2011
If a fella in a mascot suit can look smug, this guy manages it.

I interviewed Germany’s Carsten Wolf yesterday, he was an individual and team pursuit star in the 80’s and a top six day man in the 90’s with four wins off 75 starts.

His highest total of sixes for one winter was 17 between October and February; he did that twice – including races in Colombia and Argentina.

I guess I shouldn’t complain about travelling, when I consider Carsten’s itinerary.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Pete has finished building the track, now he can chill for a few days before packing it all up again.

Friday

Seems a long time ago now.

The 300 lap chase was a belter, with Keisse reminding us how much the Six Day circuit needs him.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Iljo was made for track racing.

He always looks a million dollars, rides a cool machine and performs in spectacular fashion.

He uses the whole track; maybe not the best for economising on distance covered – but great if you’re watching him.

When he regained the string to take the winning lap he popped a wheelie that a BMX rider would have been proud of – at 50 kph plus.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Try doing a wheelie on a track bike at 10mph, let alone 35!

Franco wouldn’t like to read this, but he’s not at the same level he was in the ‘golden days’ with Bruno Risi – but he’s still one of the ‘heads’ – pairing with Iljo and racing in his hometown brought out the best in him.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Franco has raced with Iljo three times in the past, but this is their first win after two second places together in the Six Days.

His win in Zürich is his fourth there, the three previous all being with King Bruno of Risi – a man we sorely miss at the races.

The sessions on Wednesday and Thursday finished at midnight but Friday went on ’til 02:30.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Plenty of motor-paced racing over these four days.

There wasn’t really any additional pro racing, just that they added in another 125 lap stayer race and some truly dreadful sprinting.

I thought it was over-kill on the motor paced but Franco says there’s always been a big tradition of stayer racing in Zürich.

That being the case, I’d have shortened the races to maybe 80 laps; but the fans do lap up the finales – which take place at mad speeds.

Homeboy, Giuseppe Atzeni dominated the racing – very smooth with little upper body movement and calm under pressure.

Zürich Four Day 2011
The brothers Hacecky, Martin and Vojtech.
Zürich Four Day 2011
Only 250 laps to go, 40 seconds “on”, 40 seconds “off”. Piece of toffee.

One of the sprinters was a giant of a man, and sporting a beard – however, the only cyclist in the history of the world, ever, to get away with a beard was Fabio Baldato.

But this dude could give Fabio maybe six stones.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Urs Frueler is one of the organisers – it’s his fault we’re still here at 03:00!

I don’t think that the racing needs to go on ’til 2:00 am; in the ‘old days,’ Zürich was always notorious for the severity of the programme with racing going on until 05:00 am.

But as Franco explained to me, that was in the days before late opening bars and clubs – many of the spectators were bevie merchants in to enjoy a late night ‘swalay.’

When you’re back in the hotel and the clock says 03:45 it’s hard to get your head round – normally, I’d have been in bed for six hours.

Zürich Four Day 2011
A win and TV interview for Swiss rider Guiseppe Atzeni.
Zürich Four Day 2011
Kris tries to rouse mechanic Dirk Dekeyser with the promise of a beer.

Saturday

In line with “veritas” I have to say that the last chase wasn’t a great one – Friday’s was much better.

But the crowd got what they wanted, a home win with a Suisse in second place too – Silvan Dillier.

Zürich Four Day 2011
A crowd-pleasing win for local man Silvan Dillier and Aussie Glen O’Shea.

Dillier usually rides with Claudio Imhof – they were strong in Ghent – but Imhof went down with a bad stomach and had to pull out.

They perm’d the teams and paired Dillier with Aussie Glenn O’Shea – a really rapid pairing, winning the flying lap on the last two nights.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Kenny de Ketele and Tim Mertens start their wind-up for the time trial.

The final spot on the podium went to Robert Bartko and Danilo Hondo.

Bartko isn’t as much of a beast as he used to be and whilst Hondo is still the coolest man in the world – when you see him right after a hard chase, the wear and tear is beginning to show.

Zürich Four Day 2011
We reckon Hondo rocks.

I interviewed him at Ghent, last year and did my homework on him – the man has impressive palmares and oozes charisma. It would be hard to imagine young riders not giving Danilo respect.

Zürich Four Day 2011
A big motor for such a small track. It’s mental.
Zürich Four Day 2011
Swiss motor-paced rider Reto Frey sets off to do battle at 50mph.

It was another long night, with a double helping of big motors and more “sprinting.”

In Grenoble and Berlin they have sprint tournaments, but with the best riders both nations have – Bauge in Grenoble; Levy in Berlin.

Sprinting at that level is poles apart from cobbling together a few old, overweight guys and calling it a ‘tournament,’ as they do in here and in Copenhagen.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Jesper is pretty good at chilling out in the middle of the mayhem – he has to be.
Zürich Four Day 2011
Six (or four) days. Just fantastic – get to one, have a beer, soak it up. It’s always been like this.

The promoter saves money, but the result is a mockery of a competition.

On the last two nights they also included a second U23 madison, late in the programme.

It’s fast and furious and crashes inevitable – there was an American duo riding; ‘I must have a chat with those lads,’ I thought to myself.

But they were in hospital before I got the opportunity.

Zürich Four Day 2011
Each night had different entertainment, “Showtime”, tonight was guitarist Marc Storace (“with an international reputation for virtuosity and is very emotional”).

Sunday

And the four night formula?

Like Franco says; ‘four nights in Zürich; one night at the Revolution – it’s much better than nothing!’

Zürich Four Day 2011
Franco winds down and soaks up that winning feeling with his fan club.
Zürich Four Day 2011
The boys enjoy the moment.
Zürich Four Day 2011
The final podium. It’s over, next stop Rotterdam in the new year.

Zürich Four Day - Results

Standings after Night Three

1 Franco Marvulli/Iljo Keisse (Swi/Bel) Skoda 195 pts
2 Silvan Dillier/Glenn O’Shea (Swi/Aus) Lerch & Partner 191
3 Danilo Hondo/Robert Bartko (Ger) Samsung 176
4 Leif Lampater/Christian Grasmann (Ger) ewz 147
@ 1 lap
5 Tim Mertens/Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Haba 176
6 Danny Stam/Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rotronic 127
7 Marc Hester/Jasper Mørkøv (Den) Hotel Krone Unterstrass 102
@ 7 laps
8 Martin Hacecky/Vojtech Hacecky (Cze) Habegger 72
@ 8 laps
9 Bernard Oberholzer/Andreas Müller (Swi/Aut) Price 48
@ 13 laps
10 Robert Bengsch/Marcel Barth (Ger) Riposa 20
@ 18 laps
11 Alexander Aeschbach/Dominique Stark (Swi) Burkhalter Group 53
@ 20 laps
12 Dominik Stucki/Benjamin Edmüller (Swi/Ger) Elektro Material

Final Overall Standings

1 Franco Marvulli/Iljo Keisse (Swi/Bel) Skoda 283 pts
@ 1 lap
2 Silvan Dillier/Glenn O’Shea (Swi/Aus) Lerch & Partner 261
3 Danilo Hondo/Robert Bartko (Ger) Samsung 257
@ 2 laps
4 Leif Lampater/Christian Grasmann (Ger) ewz 217
@ 3 laps
5 Tim Mertens/Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Haba 227
@ 4 laps
6 Danny Stam/Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rotronic 174
7 Marc Hester/Jasper Mørkøv (Den) Hotel Krone Unterstrass 144
@ 12 laps
8 Martin Hacecky/Vojtech Hacecky (Cze) Habegger 84
@ 14 laps
9 Bernard Oberholzer/Andreas Müller (Swi/Aut) Price 86
@ 22 laps
10 Robert Bengsch/Marcel Barth (Ger) Riposa 35
@ 24 laps
11 Alexander Aeschbach/Dominique Stark (Swi) Burkhalter Group 79