The cannon blasts, I push Guy off, wriggle my fat backside so as Bremen winner, Marcel Kalz doesn’t run me over and jog off the track. Those ‘Cara Mia’ bongos blast from the PA and make me smile; the lap board says ‘250’ and already the Schwalbes and Contis are roaring as the riders who started off the back straight fence hurtle into the home straight – welcome to the Copenhagen Six Day 2013.
We have American riders Guy East – our man in Grenoble and Berlin, and Zach Kovalcik, cycle courier turned US Omnium Champion, who rode the ‘steher’ Six in Berlin and is paired with Guy for Copenhagen; plus solid German all rounder, Benjamin Edmuller.
It doesn’t take long for the status quo to be established as Michel Mørkøv zooms up the Cote d’Azur at the bottom of the track a dozen laps into the race.
Most riders on the track are sluggish after Berlin and the ensuing flights and ferries – and there’s illness, Robert Bartko for one is coughing and spluttering.
But no such handicaps for the Saxo Home Boy who’s won here three times in the past; not last year though, when fellow Dane Marc Hester paired with the man who’s current king of the boards, but isn’t here due to road commitments – Iljo Keisse of Belgium.
But aforementioned Big Bob’s bad chest isn’t good news for Marc – last year’s winner and the big German on full fitness would be a formidable pairing.
Michael is paired with Olympic Omnium Champion, Lasse Norman; if you watched that omnium then you’ll know that he’s one beast of a laddie – and only 20 years-old.
Michael’s blood brother and partner here in their three wins, Alex Rasmussen, is still under suspension by the UCI over half-baked ‘whereabouts’ infringements.
Sometimes I almost feel sorry for the UCI and then I think about how unfairly they’ve treated Alex…
I sent him an email to tell him that we miss him; he assured me he’s training like a demon down in Girona and can’t wait to be get back into action.
The music is good in Copenhagen; Kool and the Gang, Alcazar, Rod Stewart, Kiss, Rick James, Sylvester – great madison music.
And on the boards it’s looking to me that the only question is; ‘who’ll be second?’
Probably Luke Roberts and Leif Lampater, the Aussie former team pursuit star has signed with a small German Continental team and has much more freedom to ride the Six Days; whilst Lampater is solid – if never having fully realised the promise of those heady early days when he regularly rode onto the podium with Erik Zabel.
They were the ones who looked to offer the most resistance to what looks like an inevitable Mørkøv win – one look at his gazelle legs, lean torso and tanned cheek bones tells you that he’s the fittest man in the hall by some margin.
Mørkøv/Norman win, no surprise and I suspect Michael just making it clear to everyone how it’s gonna be.
The schoolboys take to the track to let the guys recover – it was a sore one for Zach, they lost five laps despite Guy on damage limitation.
A sprint series, Derny, elimination, 500 metre time trial – I don’t even see who wins; I’m too busy pushing riders in, hauling riders out, changing them and drying jerseys and vests.
There’s a DJ set and then the lap record attempt, a lot of 14 second efforts, some 13’s – the lap record is 12.834 to Robert Bartko in 2011.
Michael and Lasse look like they mean business, KASK helmets and millimetres between Michael’s back tyre and Norman’s front – and not much more than millimetres between their bars and the fence as AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ hammers forth from the PA.
High, smooth, purposeful and then comes the dive, the sling, Lasse breaks the beam, Jeez! he’s quick, bang! 12.6 – two tenths hacked off the record – if there was any doubt at all about Par nr. 7’s form, it was just erased.
Derny, Devil, ‘Balustrade’ – Dario G’s ‘Sunchyme’ pumps, the string tracks the fence, the crowd isn’t big but they do a good job of clapping along as Marcel Barth does his hands off ‘aeroplane’ thing at the front.
In Berlin he had a cape and crown – too much for a sad old purist like me.
There’s a 30 minute chase to close – but again I don’t know who won, Kris has bolted to start the washing and I have three riders to haul in and change then get all their stuff down to the cabin before helping with the washing.
Not a bad first night, did I tell you that they have a boxing ring in the track centre, no?
OK, we’ll start with that tomorrow – just don’t forget Zach’s team mantra…