There’s new management in Copenhagen, long term organiser Henrik Elmgreen and his wife Helle have stepped down and the reins are now held by ex-pros, Michael Sandstød and Jimmi Madsen.
The changes aren’t huge but they are there – the boxing, the brisk seven man devils, food in the stadium instead of the restaurant up the road and a change of hotel.
The last mentioned is a real pain; we used to billet in the basic but very clean and cosy ‘Zleep’ hotel which is just 500 metres away.
However, certain riders and their personnel made such idiots of themselves last year that much bad feeling was created.
The new hotel is a 20 minute drive away and required us to share with a third person in the room – not to mention them take a 75 Euro deposit for the mini bar.
We decided to sleep in the camper at the stadium, saving an hour’s driving each day and the possibility of rooming who someone who snores even more than us.
There was always perfect wi-fi in the stadium before, but this year, no dice.
The official line is that because too many parents of kids in the ‘mini-six’ were on line, the system crashed.
But word on the street is that the organisers don’t like to see the mechanics sitting looking at their laptops when the racing is taking place, or the riders with their noses buried in laptops when the ViPs are shown round.
Net result is that there’s no wi-fi in the stadium for anyone – even if you have a press card and have been submitting reports from the race since 2005, like I have.
There’s a McDonald’s about a kilometre from the stadium, but I couldn’t get a connection there – grim.
‘Plan C’ is that I’ll email all my work from the Zleep hotel tomorrow afternoon – we’re checking in independently of the race to sleep there on the last night – where I’ll sign up for the ‘pay as you go’ wi-fi which has always worked a treat for me.
Tonight is a big night; it’s the 75 kilometre handicap chase.
Those on the zero lap give away laps to the lesser ranked teams – and the final standings count for the overall.
There can be no messing around in this one, we have eight laps – it’s possible . . .
There’s even been an extra beer delivery – amateur compared to Gent where you count the trucks rather than the barrels – and we’re all set for the big night.
The sprint series start the show, Guy wins one but there’s no wine/chocolates/cheese for the cabin – just points, never mind.
The Devil, and Guy gets caught in a traffic jam as Colonel Abrahams sings, ‘Trapped’ – very appropriate.
The ‘mini six’ kids come to call on us.
Michael and Lasse Norman take the time trial from Kalz and Bengsch.
And then it’s time for ‘those damned drums’ – as they used to say in those big game movies with Stewart Granger – as Johnny Wakelin’s ‘In Zaire’ rattles out for the Derny. It’s beginning to grate a little, now.
Michael wins and it’s time for the real racing to commence.
We only have Guy and Zach to worry about; Benjamin rode the supporting races but is too low with a virus to ride a 75 K death race.
The commissar holds up one finger, one lap to go, the lap board is in serious mood – 300 it says; and there’s no negotiation on that.
I still love those ‘Cara Mia’ bongos – and we’re off; 300 laps and no quarter asked or given.
Can we win?
We can dream.
250: and Jerry Lee Lewis is setting fire to his piano with ‘Great Balls of Fire’ as Par #13 still tops the leader board, looking not too bad at all.
200: ‘Everybody Dance Now’ and the pain is showing on Zach’s face – but we’re having dramas track side.
The cord has broken in my trackie bottoms and to make matters worse, Martyn Frank has spotted my situation on the live video feed and is sending me ‘ha ha ha’ text messages.
150: ‘Vamoose a la Playa’ – incidentally the worst pop video ever, where one of the duo sings into a wee TV on his wrist – is good madison music and still we lead.
Zach is hurting bad but Guy is working like a Trojan, closing the gaps and still it’s Par #13 on the zero lap.
100: ‘Dance the Night Away’ and Aeschbach/Bigum come level, but Alex isn’t at his best, he’s not had the races – we could beat them if it comes to a sprint, surely?
At 90 to go reality knocks hard as Kalz/Bengsch come level; they’re going to be hard for anyone to beat, never mind Guy and Zach – and they won this, last year.
Etienne Illegems, the Belgian soigneur wanders up to Kris, nods in Guy’s direction and says; ‘the American has character, eh?’
There are 78 to go when Zach explodes and it really is the end – but Guy keeps dragging them back, until with 68 to he sits up, goes high and succumbs to the inevitable, catching his breath as the string hurtles round to meet him and the grind starts all over again.
50: Iggy Pop, ‘Lust for Life’ – something which Zach has temporarily lost.
But there’s more drama after the finish – Zach has a bad coughing fit, probably brought on by going deeper than he’s ever gone in his life before and we have to get the doctor.
The doctor is obviously a highly trained chest specialist; he gives Zach some state of the art medication.
Wait – what’s that say on the packet? Strepsils!
Don’t you just love the Six Days?
There’s one honey beer left in the fridge – where’s that opener?