I parachuted in for the last night at Rotterdam Six Day where Gent winners Moreno De Pauw and Kenny De Ketele carried on where they left off – but instead of winning by two laps, they made it four…
Dominant for sure but no spectacle.
But I’ve whinged about that already.
We drove north for a couple of hours then parked up in a truck stop for what passes as sleep on the Six Day carousel.
Bremen is the next stop, an industrial city of more than two millions souls in Northern Germany.
‘The Party Six Day’ as it’s known due the fact that it’s run in the Bremen Messe (exhibition centre) where there’s every kind of alcoholic, musical and culinary distraction known to man to keep you away from the tight, atmospheric little track.
Within a spit of being the same size as Gent at 166 metres but with longer straights and vertiginous bankings.
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The race has been run without a break since 1965; ‘recordman’ is Dutchman Rene Pijnen on seven wins, the last one coming in 1983 with big German pursuiter, Gregor Braun.
We have four previous winners in our line up; home boy Leif Lampater has two wins here of his nine win total off 84 starts.
His first win was with long retired countryman, Erik Zabel in 2009 and his most recent was in 2014 with Dutchman Wim Stroetinga in 2014.
Wim Stroetinga rides again and has three wins off 47 starts.
Germany’s Christian Grasmann took one of his two Six Day wins – off 74 starts – here in 2016.
He was partnered by Belgium’s Kenny De Ketele who’s wins number 12 off 69 starts.
Lampater rides with Belgian Gent and Rotterdam winner, Moreno De Pauw and could well make it three here.
Stroetinga rides Belgian Robbe Ghys who we don’t think is strong enough for a podium.
Grasmann is paired with Jesper Morkov younger brother of QuickStep professional Michael and look worthy of a podium after night one.
De Ketele rides with home boy, Theo Reinhardt – a podium? Maybe.
We have three riders, all Germans, former German Madison Champion, Nico Hesslich; last year’s U23 race winner here in Bremen, Moritz Augenstein and reigning European Derny Champion, Achim Burkart.
We got off to a great start with Achim winning the opening devil, then the Derny then another devil – he’s partnered with fast Dutchman, Yoeri Havik and they were strong in the chase and time trial.
Initial trackside impressions are that apart from Achim and Yoeri; Messrs. Grasmann, Mørkøv, De Ketele and Kneisky all look relaxed.
Much more so than Aussie former world champ, Leigh Howard and Kenny De Ketele’s partner, Theo Reinhart who looked to be going very ‘deep.’
The pits in Bremen are below a V.i.P. platform and have been specifically designed for boys my height to brain themselves – Christian Grasmann fixed me up with a Maloca baseball cap to protect my bald heid.
It clashes beautifully with the bright yellow polo shirts we have to wear here…
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And like George McCrae says; “It’s Been so Long.”
Since we lead a Six Day that is… but Achim and Yoeri went top tonight – nice one!
They won the first chase and rode strongly in the big, late chase.
I had to hold up big Scottish sprinter, Lewis Stewart in the team sprint.
I’m so used to holding up skinny Six Day guys; dead casual, one hand – then you get a ‘brick-built outhouse’ like Lewis and you realise you’re not as strong as you used to be.
We had a visitor tonight; singer Alphonso Williams, winner of German reality TV show, Superstars.
Thing is, Alphonso is ‘outta’ Detroit, Michigan – so how can he win a German TV contest?
But it must be noted; he is one BIG dude.
The big chase was conducted at a good lick and we had to feel sorry for our boy Moritz Augenstein who’s partner Jon-Andre Freuler – nephew of Six Day legend and 10 times world track champion, Urs Freuler – isn’t having a good race, missing more than one change tonight.
Grasmann/Morkov won the ‘big’ 45 minute chase then it was break time.
Mickey Krause was the entertainment tonight.
Doctor McCoy’s words came back to me; ‘It’s music Jim – but not as we know it.’
But the housewives of Bremen were certainly ‘getting down on it’ to his version of ‘Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep.’
The sight of that camper van has never been so welcome.
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The afternoon session is universally despised by riders and staff – it took two circuits of the pits by the organisers to get the boys out and on their bikes to start the show.
It’s a short programme, the rolling presentation then a devil, a chase and a Derny.
The ladies’ omnium kicked off with the scratch race, won by big, strong Dutchwoman Kirsten Wild, no surprises there.
Then a wee bit Scottish interest as big Great Britain representative Lewis Stewart took the keirin; I almost dropped him at the start; I keep forgetting that those sprinter boys are solid – but it didn’t unnerve him too much and he went long to win, nice.
I wonder what the pasta will be?
“Podi-odie-odie” I hope I got those lyrics right?
We have a 45 minute deejay spot now – it’s 11:30pm I should say and most riders and staff are fantasising about clean sheets and cosy duvet covers.
I certainly am.
But Bremen has to live up to it’s “Party Six” reputation.
Boney M, ‘Daddy Cool’ hammers out as Rene Enders, the fastest first lap man in the world pops in for some pictures – so I snap one of those amazing legs of his.
Howard and Kneisky won the first chase.
Achim punctured and Jorg had to effect a rapid change – scratch one 60 Euro Conti Tempo.
Surprisingly, Kirstin edged the ladies omnium – there were only 47 points in it…
Dernys, then the time trial we don’t win.
De Pauw is quickest against the clock – but one look at the Belgian catapulting out of those bankings tells you whose gonna win.
The Europop is excruciating now; the deejay leads the communal chanting.
Yes, it’s Saturday night in Bremen.
Next up, the ‘big’ 45 minute chase.
It’s fast. Kenny De Ketele clears off late, gets the gap, puts Reinhardt in and they make a feast of the victory celebrations.
The ‘balustrade’ sprint, a couple of keirins, washing, camper, sleep…
Read what happened in Nights Four, Five and Six in Ed’s Diary.