Forgive me if all I do these days is moan about Six Day finales.

But …

As Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis booms out of the PA the scoreboard tells me Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw are FOUR laps clear.

It’s a real cliff hanger …

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw are four laps clear. Photo©Ed Hood.

That was the same advantage they went into this final chase with.

A few years back this would have been unthinkable – the winners would take victory in the final sprint or with a late lap gain.

Not, I hasten to add a ‘charade’ lap gain per Wiggo/Cav, Gent 2016.

Maybe it’s me, getting old, remembering ‘the good old days’ of Risi/Beschart and Slippens/Stam; and before that, Danny Clark, Leo Duyndam, Rene Pijnen – I could go on.

So Kenny and Moreno win by four laps – but why?

Great athletes, of course, but showmen? Entertainers? No.

If you want to see hard, ‘straight’ bike racing then go to a World Cup …

Anyway.

It’s an unwritten law of the Six Days that you can never ‘just arrive’ at the venue.

There has to be transcontinental drive or at least a train journey or two.

Fortunately, the trains in The Netherlands have nothing to do with British Rail and run to the minute – all you have to do is head downstairs from Schipol Airport and there you are, the iron road to Rotterdam.

It’s a while since I’ve been on a Dutch train. It was 2012 in fact, on my way down to the Valkenburg Worlds and Phil Gil doing the business.

And a wee while since last I was at the Rotterdam Six Day, 2012 again when home boys Peter Schep (now there was a stylist) and that most phsical of fast men, Wim Stroetinga won.

Schep is now Race Director at the Rotterdam race so no excuses accepted for below par performances.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Yoeri Havik is thrown in by Wim Stroetinga. Photo©Ed Hood

Stroetinga meanwhile is still treading them boards – partnered with ex-Raleigh man, Yoeri Havik.

The rolling presentation; some guys like it as a ‘good warm up,’ but to others it’s a pain in the neck.

But if you’re a spectator it helps with rider recognition as the speaker reels off their palmarès.

In Niki Terpstra’s case that takes several laps.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Niki Terpstra throws Dylan Van Baarle. Photo©Ed Hood

Leaner than ever, he’s partnered with new Sky man, Dylan Van Baarle, another long, lean Dutchman.

No podium for the Dutchmen though.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky. Photo©Ed Hood

Other big name teams include French World Madison Champions, Benjamin Thomas and another ex-Raleigh man, Morgan Kneisky.

Eventual third.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Roger Kluge and Christian Grassman. Photo©Ed Hood

German duo, Roger Kluge and Christian Grassman would normally have been well ‘in the mix’ but Christian was sick over the weekend and neutralised out of the race.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Daniel Staniszewski and Wojciech Pszcolarski. Photo©Ed Hood
Rotterdam Six Day 2018
The boys, with Sebastian, their mechanic. Photo©Ed Hood

Our boys are Polish duo Daniel Staniszewski and Wojciech Pszcolarski; the latter was with us last year in Copenhagen and in the meantime he picked up a bronze at the Worlds in the points race.

But who’s the old dude sitting quietly beside the track?

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Bruno Walrave. Photo©Ed Hood

Only Bruno Walrave. Former king of the Derny and big motor pilots – and 15 times world champion.

And on the subject of ‘stars on 45’ we get a visit from ‘Boogie’ – Michael Bogaert, former Rabobank star, the shine on who’s palmarès is wiped out by the harsh reality of Rabo’s now notorious ‘programme.’

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Michael Bogaer. Photo©Ed Hood

And if you’ve read Thomas Dekker’s book, ‘The Descent’ then you won’t be surprised that ‘Boogie’ and old Tom no longer exchange Christmas cards.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood 

Despite all the talk of stamping out sexism and banning podium girls, word hasn’t reached Rotterdam yet with the ‘flower girls’ in their Lycra catsuits.

They seem to enjoy their work though …

Stroetinga/Havik were second in the final reckoning.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

And there’s little doubt that if you want to get rider interviews then blonde curls are very helpful in clinching the deal.

Anorak time.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Morgan Kneisky’s Look. Photo©Ed Hood 

Still the usual Cervélos, Dolans and Kogas; with Morgan Kneisky’s immaculate Look demonstrating the latest in the French company’s multi-adjustable extension/external steerer set up.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

But in the ‘now for something completely different’ stakes, Kneisky’s partner, Thomas is on aloominum – I’ll have catch up with him and ask what the story is?

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Theo Boss. Photo©Ed Hood
Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Theo Boss had a ‘rad’ Avanti on display with a front end not unlike the Willier time trial bikes from a season or two ago.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

German fast machine specialists FES had a beautifully aero carbon bar/extension on show.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Jeffrey Hoogland. Photo©Ed Hood

On the subject of the sprlnters, Dutch track sport is under going something of a rennaisance with Jeffrey Hoogland one of the fastest in the world right now.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood
Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Dernys; it wouldn’t be a Six Day without them.

Big Roger Kluge won the final with our boy Wojciech drawn off One so with slim chance of a result.

Rotterdam Six Day 2018
Kenny De Ketele wins the flowers. Photo©Ed Hood

The final chase was ‘just another chase’ – the Belgians went in four laps up and came out four laps up.

Wow!

We’re hoping for better in Bremen …

Don’t you just love Euro motorways after midnight?