It’s my first time at the Amsterdam Six Day – Kris (the soigneur I’m working with) said I needed to attend so I can say I’ve been at every one of the current winter races – and initial impressions aren’t bad; it’s a nice wee track in a good location, the old village of Sloten, a suburb of Amsterdam.
Rembrandt painted in these parts and there’s a nice local museum with statues of the great man and also the brilliant but tragic, Vincent.
The outside portacabins aren’t glam but there’s plenty of room to work down in the track centre – unlike Gent and Copenhagen – the carpet tiles get Hoovered every night, breakfast and dinner are part of the deal and the grub is OK.
I’m glad VeloVeritas cycling sage and prophet, Viktor isn’t here though, the HPV’s on display would send him into frenzy.
They sit like two beached whales, one bearing the scars where it’s pilot dropped it – there’s no windscreen, just a tiny camera and a display screen between the pilot’s legs.
Tandems and trikes are a bit nutty but these things take it to a different level.
Vik was on the phone earlier bemoaning the fact that the Six Day big beasts are slipping away, one by one.
Vik was always a Big Bob Bartko man – and ‘The Terminator’ has won here a time or two in the past but brought the curtain down on his career with a win in the Copenhagen Six day back in February.
If ‘Skynet’ the computer network which created ‘The Terminator’ had created a six day team it would indeed have been Big Bob, paired with fellow Berliner Roger Kluge.
Those boys burned up the track like automatons – a joy to watch.
What’s nice is that they have big images around the stadium of how the Six Days used to be ‘back in the day’ with track centre restaurants at bursting point with be-suited gentleman and immaculately coiffed ladies – I’m sorry I missed that era.
The vibe is pretty laid back, no one’s too janitorial and on paper the top four teams aren’t bad at all – albeit, as our boy Daniel says; ‘Terpstra is on another planet.’
That said, the madisons I’ve seen thus far would have Danny Clark shaking his head, only ‘sparking’ in the last minutes – but I guess if Terpstra, Lampater and De Buyst raced it ‘full gas’ all the time then there would be boys losing 20 laps in every madison.
I flew over on Wednesday night – amid uncertainty about the race going ahead after Tuesday night’s horror crash when former world champion behind the big motors, Cess Stam is thought have suffered a heart attack whilst piloting a Derny.
The ensuing crash saw two Dernys and four riders down with Stam hospitalised and racing abandoned for the night.
The last we heard he was ‘serious but stable’ in an induced coma – let’s hope that he makes a full recovery.
The race programme is brisk with things kicking off at 7:15 pm and all done and dusted by 10:45 pm.
One race follows another in quick succession; 100 lap chase, devil, time trial, Derny 1, keirin 1, Derny 2, keirin 2, ‘supersprint’ and a 200 lap chase to close
The days of Six Days running until 4:00 am and 100 kilometre madisons will never be seen again.
We have three riders, ‘Born in the USA’ guys Daniel Holloway – who dominated the US criteriums scene this season with 21 wins – and laid back Guy East.
The call came late for them so preparation was brief and despite all that crit form Daniel had, he and Guy are finding it tough.
Our third man is German Seb Wotschke who’s riding sweetly just below the top four ‘death race’ teams with young Czech Dennis Rugovac.
Paris-Roubaix winner Terpstra rides with Yoeri Havik who rides for the famous Dutch team De Rijke and is a regular in the ‘races to nowhere’ – but isn’t a bad road man, this year he won the 150 K UCI 1.2 Antwerpse Havenpijl.
Our old chum, Alex Rasmussen rides with fellow Dane Marc Hester – Alex’s Six Day rides come at the expense of his Rio Olympic ambitions with the Danish team decreeing that their team pursuit riders can’t ride the Sixes.
As Alex says; ‘You have to make a living and four years is a long time to devote to a four minute ride…‘
Last winter’s Kaiser of the Six Days, Bavarian Leif Lampater rides with home boy Nick Stöpler.
Whilst last winter’s sensation, Belgian Topsport pro Jasper De Buyst pairs with Vuelta breakaway specialist and former Dutch champion, Pim Ligthart.
The first night I was just finding my feet but my second night (the fourth night of racing) I was in full effect doing all that ‘runner stuff.’
It soon comes back to you, the rituals, the chores, when to have a joke and when to keep schtum.
And on that subject I’ll do that right now and be back in a day or two to tell you about the final two days.
And just as I sign off, Claude François comes on Radio Nostalgie; ‘C’ést la Même Chanson’ – quality!
It’ll soon be Tour time …