The gun fires, the bongos rattle, ‘Cara Mia’ blasts, the rattle of chains and rumble of rubber on wood builds and the chase which kicks off the 50th Copenhagen Six Day is up and running.

But it’s not any old chase, since I first walked up the steps from the tunnel when we arrived here on Wednesday afternoon the lap board has been displaying a short but grim message — 400.

That’s 400 laps at 250 metres for each lap; I’ll help with the arithmetic — 100 kilometres.

400 laps is 60 miles. Two hours minute on minute off, anyone?

The music is good and loud, the lights are bright, the track surface advertising has all been re-painted and the track looks cool — it’s all a Six Day should be.

It’s just a pity there aren’t so many people here in the Ballerup Super Arena in the suburbs of Copenhagen.

The track record is 1:56:31 for Danny Clark (Australia) & Jens Veggerby (Denmark) set during the 1989 Six Day – will it survive?

We have six men to look after here – home boys, reigning Copenhagen champions and former World Madison Champions, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv; World number one rated Six Day rider, Franco Marvulli of Switzerland paired with Michael’s younger brother, Jesper; Jackie Simes of the USA and Worlds Omnium Silver Medallist Shane Archbold.

Jackie and Shane figure '400 laps' must be a misprint.

Jackie rides with German former Grand Tour rider, Björn Schröder whilst Shane rides with Suisse Claudio Imhof.

Our boys on the rollers watch as Dirk preps the discs for the time trial.

With so many riders on the boards in our care it’s hectic being the runner — it’s my job to fetch the discarded bottles, clean them then refill them.

Jesper gets warmed up.

We had thought that the race would drag but far from it, the laps rattle down and with 300 still to go there are men suffering.

It’s half distance before we know it and as Alcazar’s classic six day song, ‘Crying at The Discotheque’ surges from the speakers there are some big errors of judgement being made up there — riders hurtle through the middle of exchanges and the abuse flies.

The situation with the bottles is crazy, I can only grab a moment here and there to take some pictures but then it’s back to trotting round to the banking to retrieve the bottle — sometimes three — and return to where Martyn and Kris are standing in the back straight, wash the bottles, dry them, refill them, fill them and pass them to the boys.

Iljo successfully grabs a drink.

One of the young Danes has his mechanic handing up drinks and he keeps dropping them — more colourful language.

The young mechanic is getting stressed and runs up the straight to retrieve the bottles but doesn’t look back to see where the string is as he bends down to retrieve them — ‘dangerous’ isn’t the word.

But we’re all stressed, it’s been a long season and the riders are scared of the distance.

Michael Mørkøv looks sharp but Alex is hurting.
Franco looks a little grey whilst Jesper is cramping.
Jackie is having a bad night and Schröder (pictured) is a little frustrated with him.
No-one can expect too much from Shane, he’s just flown half way around the world.
And even the likes of Bob Bartko aren’t having it easy.

As the laps click past the small teams can’t even contemplate taking a lap, just holding the wheel is what it’s all about for them.

With 76 to go it’s Shakin’ Stevens and ‘You Drive Me Crazy’ — a few of the riders would like to dedicate that to organiser Henrik Elmgreen and his desire to go back to the ‘old days’ and ‘proper’ chases.

I had thought a 100km chase was a bad idea when I heard about it, but standing beside the track I have to admit that it’s a real spectacle — this is no procession, this is a race.

The big surprise is Blaha/Barth who lead with 50 to go but inevitably the big guns draw level; there’s pride at stake here as well as kudos — it’ll maybe be the last time a rider can ever say he’s won a 100km madison.

Barth.

Keisse is a little under-the-weather with a cold and Hester doesn’t look to be enjoying it but they’re one of the strongest; Michael still looks good, Alex doesn’t, but they’re ‘par #7’ and national pride is at stake.

Leif Lampater.

Bartko is hurting and from where I’m standing Lampater is doing a better job; Danny Stam has found his legs again — maybe because it’s his last race – but partner Stroetinga is even more scrunched up on his bike than usual.

Stroetinga isn't looking comfortable.

The bell, and Iljo goes from a long way out, whilst Alex is the sprinter, Michael is no slouch, especially at the end of a long hard race and he locks on to the Belgian — but he has work to do on that last lap.

Iljo guns it.

Crack! The gun fires, both men claim it, I get the caps and towels ready — but it’s Iljo and Marc Hester’s picture which flashes up on the score board.

Damn!

I have Michael and Alex’s cabin, they’re hardly in before the microphones and tape recorders appear; ‘one minute, please!’ I have to tell one journo as I try to get Alex into a dry vest.

Alex will get better over the coming days.

Keisse/Hester win on the zero lap with 20 points from Mørkøv/Rasmussen 0/12, Stam/Stroetinga 0/10 and Bartko/Lampater 0/8 with Barth/Blaha, de Ketele/Mertens and Marvulli/J. Mørkøv: all at one lap.

Claudio and Shane.

Jackie and Shane and their respective partners lost eight laps but not their self respect and are now two of the few men who can talk with authority about what it’s like to ride a 100 kilometre madison in a Six Day.

Jackie looks a bit shocked by the experience.

And the last word goes to Danny Clark; ‘I ain’t happy – they took a minute off me track record!

Elephants feature at the Carlsberg brewery, used because they symbolise loyalty and strength. Someone had the bright idea in 1976 to bring some baby ones to the velodrome, whereupon they "radged oot", as we might say here in Scotland.

 

Copenhagen Six Day 2012 - Results from Day One

100km / 60 mile Madison

1 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Marc Hester (Den) Sydbank 22 pts
2 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen 22
3 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 7
4 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Ger) Loxam Rental 6
@ 1 Laps
5 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 16
6 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens (Bel) AB copenhagen 3
7 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 2
@ 2 Laps
8 Andreas Müller (Aut) / Sebastian Lander (Den) Telebilling 13
9 Robert Bengsch / Marcel Kalz (Ger) Fog 11
@ 3 Laps
10 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 2
@ 4 Laps
11 Leon van Bon (Ned) / Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Bindernæs Efterskole 1
@ 5 Laps
12 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013 4
@ 8 Laps
13 Shane Archbold (NZl) / Claudio Imhof (Swi) P.O. Nielsen 1
14 Björn Schröder (Ger) / Jack Simes IV (USA) Claus Dalsgaard & 2test

Sprint 1

1 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 5 pts
2 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 3
3 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens (Bel) AB copenhagen 2
4 Andreas Müller (Aut) / Sebastian Lander (Den) Telebilling 1

Sprint 2

1 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 5 pts
2 Björn Schröder (Ger) / Jack Simes IV (USA) Claus Dalsgaard & 2test 3
3 Leon van Bon (Ned) / Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Bindernæs Efterskole 2
4 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 1

Sprint 3

1 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 5 pts
2 Shane Archbold (NZl) / Claudio Imhof (Swi) P.O. Nielsen 3
3 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013 2
4 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Ger) Loxam Rental 1

Sprint 4

1 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Marc Hester (Den) Sydbank 5 pts
2 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen 3
3 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 2
4 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 1

Sprint 5

1 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 5 pts
2 Leon van Bon (Ned) / Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Bindernæs Efterskole 3
3 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013 2
4 Björn Schröder (Ger) / Jack Simes IV (USA) Claus Dalsgaard & 2test 1

Sprint 6

1 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 5 pts
2 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen 3
3 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 2
4 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 1

Derny - Group B

1 Andreas Müller (Aut) / Sebastian Lander (Den) Telebilling 10 pts
2 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 8
3 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013 6
4 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 4
5 Shane Archbold (NZl) / Claudio Imhof (Swi) P.O. Nielsen 2

500m Team Time Trial

1 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 0:00:28.475
2 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens (Bel) AB copenhagen 0:00:28.750

Flying Lap Time Trial

1 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen 0:00:13.148
2 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Marc Hester (Den) Sydbank 0:00:13.188
3 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013 0:00:13.240
4 Robert Bengsch / Marcel Kalz (Ger) Fog 0:00:13.325
5 Shane Archbold (NZl) / Claudio Imhof (Swi) P.O. Nielsen 0:00:13.400
6 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 0:00:13.528
7 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Ger) Loxam Rental 0:00:13.548
8 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 0:00:13.576
9 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 0:00:13.597
10 Leon van Bon (Ned) / Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Bindernæs Efterskole 0:00:13.777
11 Björn Schröder (Ger) / Jack Simes IV (USA) Claus Dalsgaard & 2test 0:00:13.816
12 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens (Bel) AB copenhagen 0:00:13.843
13 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 0:00:13.930
14 Andreas Müller (Aut) / Sebastian Lander (Den) Telebilling 0:00:14.424

Derny - Group A

1 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Ger) Loxam Rental 10 pts
2 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen 8
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Marc Hester (Den) Sydbank 6
4 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security 4
5 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 2

Giant Sprint

1 Franco Marvulli (Swi) / Jesper Mørkøv (Den) Watergroup 10 pts
2 Robert Bengsch / Marcel Kalz (Ger) Fog 6
3 Marcel Barth (Ger) / Martin Blaha (Cze) Jensen Skilte 5
4 Leon van Bon (Ned) / Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Bindernæs Efterskole 4
5 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Ger) Loxam Rental 3
6 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Christian Ranneries (Den) Feltet.dk 2
7 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens (Bel) AB copenhagen
8 Björn Schröder (Ger) / Jack Simes IV (USA) Claus Dalsgaard & 2test
9 Danny Stam / Wim Stroetinga (Ned) DSS Security
10 Alex Rasmussen / Michael Mørkøv (Den) Lundbæk og Hansen
11 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Lasse Norman (Den) 6dagesløb 2013
12 Shane Archbold (NZl) / Claudio Imhof (Swi) P.O. Nielsen
13 Iljo Keisse (Bel) / Marc Hester (Den) Sydbank
14 Andreas Müller (Aut) / Sebastian Lander (Den) Telebilling

Copenhagen Six Day 2012 - Standings after Day One

1 Iljo Keisse / Marc Hester (Sydbank) 37 pts
2 Alex Rasmussen /Michael Mørkøv:  (Lundbæk og Hansen) 36 pts
3 Danny Stam /: Wim Stroetinga (DSS Security ) 25 pts
4 Robert Bartko / Leif Lampater (Loxam Rental) 22 pts
@ 1 Lap
5 Marcel Barth /Martin Blaha:  (Jensen Skilte) 30 pts
6 Franco Marvulli / Jesper Mørkøv (Watergroup) 26 pts
7 Kenny de Ketele / Tim Mertens:  (AB copenhagen) 6 pts
@ 2 Laps
8 Andreas Müller / Sebastian Lander:  (Telebilling) 11 pts
9 Robert Bengsch / Marcel Kalz:  (Fog) 10 pts
@ 3 Laps
10 Alexander Aeschbach / Christian Ranneries (Feltet.dk) 7 pts
@ 4 Laps
11 Leon van Bon (Bindernæs Efterskole) 9 pts
Michael Smith Larsen
@ 5 Laps
12 Christian Grasmann / Lasse Norman:  (6dagesløb 2013) 15 pts
@ 8 Laps
13 Shane Archbold / Claudio Imhof:  (P.O. Nielsen) 8 pts
14 Björn Schröder / Jack Simes IV (Claus Dalsgaard & 2test) 4 pts

 

Michael and Alex are used to pressure, but six days with not a moment's peace?...