“All is forgiven,” Mr. Kenny De Ketele.

After the two and four lap finale debacles of Gent and Rotterdam the Belgian former World Champion finally served us up a proper, entertaining final chase in the Bremen Six Day 2018; five teams were all in with realistic podium chances going into the closing 60 minute chase and the winning move only came late in the day.

Check out the first three nights Diary.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Kenny and Theo dominated in Bremen. Photo©Ed Hood

De Ketele, partnered by Germany’s Theo Reinhardt, had looked ominously strong all week, opening and closing big gaps with ease whenever the need arose.

The physicality, bobbing shoulders in particular, of his younger days has gone – solid in the saddle and smooth as a Cancellara motorised acceleration he looks the part 100%.

Our man, Achim Burkart, partnered by Dutch strongman Yoeri Havik lead into the last 60 minutes but even without a crash damaged shoulder, the young German and experienced Dutchman would have struggled to beat the ‘men in black.’

Third spot went to Danish/German duo of Jesper Morkov & Christian Grasmann.

As Mørkøv said; ‘we’re two big diesels and just don’t have the jump that riders like Kenny have.’

Just off the podium were France’s World Madison Champion, Morgan Kneisky partnered by Aussie, Leigh Howard who’s no stranger to a rainbow jersey himself.

* * *

Day Four

But let’s turn the clock back to Sunday…

BANG!

Who’s down?

It’s Achim!

Damn it!

He’s OK but scratch his second 60 Euro Conti in two days and those beautiful, fast red, aero shoes look like they’ve been chewed by a ‘gator – and that’s before we look at the lump out of crash hat.

It happened in the first Devil of the day, everyone wakens up after that one.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

There was, of course much debate after the spill and the blame went round in a circle until everyone got bored.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Theo Reinhardt. Photo©Ed Hood

Sunday, with it’s early start and early finish is ‘media’ day – it would be easy to pretend that Theo Reinhardt’s interview was being conducted in a coal mine, with the dark, low ceilings and timber supports.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Leigh Howard. Photo©Ed Hood

Leigh Howard, coming from Oz and the great outdoors prefers to do his talking out in the open but leans on the banking to emphasise it’s steepness – a ‘wall of death’ 58 degrees, according to the programme.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Achim and Yoeri. Photo©Ed Hood

To make up for his crash, Achim won the Madison with Yoeri – more flowers in the cabin, always nice.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood
Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Achim is a man in demand with the local radio visiting the cabin then the TV guys grabbing him on the way out.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Even more flowers now – with our boy Moritz and his amigo, young Freuler winning the devil.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Grasmann and Mørkøv. Photo©Ed Hood
Bremen Six Day 2018
Stroetinga and Ghys. Photo©Ed Hood

I can’t remember if it was Grasmann/Mørkøv or Stroetinga/Ghys won the last Madison – so we’ve published pictures of both so as not to cause offence.

There was the sun streaming in the windows; and the race was finished – all’s well in the world.

And there was even Parmesan with the pasta…

* * *

Day Five

And we’re back in the lead!

But it’s very tight with as many as five teams potentially worth a podium in this entertaining bike race.

The first chase was a sore one for Achim, he damaged the muscles and tendons in his shoulder in yesterday’s crash but showed real grinta, refusing to be neutralised or ‘hide’ in the chase – respect.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Jesper takes a sling from Grasmann. Photo©Ed Hood

Grasmann and Mørkøv take the first chase.

The Dernys – lots of noise and, erm, someone won it.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

A la Grenoble Six Days of a year or two ago – where cabaret was a big deal – the organisation had a trio of gymnasts put on a show in the track centre during one of the breaks; it went down well – preposterously strong men.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Rene Enders retirement ceremony. Photo©Ed Hood

Time for tears as multi Worlds sprint medallist Rene Enders called ‘time’ on a career which started with a bronze medal in the German novice’s 500 metre time trial back in 2003 and ended with silver medals in the individual and team sprint national champs just last year.

Along the way there were Junior World, European and World Elite titles in the team sprint and two Olympic bronzes in the same discipline.

And he still holds the world record for the fastest ever lap one in a team sprint, 16.984 set in Aguascalientes in 2013.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The big chase goes to Kenny De Ketele and Theo Reinhardt for the second night running – they could be the winners.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

But so could Morgan Kneisky and Leigh Howard who’ll no doubt be on strong money and their jersey sponsor will want a podium at least.

It occurred to me during this chase that I haven’t mentioned music much in my rantings, that’s because the ‘speaker’ rarely stops speaking and we only get odd snippets of tunes – he should let the chase flow more and bang on some solid 70’s disco, like they do in Gent.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Now, on the subject of music … check out Lorenz Büffel and ‘Johny Däpp’ below – Old Lorenz gave us this live for what seemed like 45 minutes, not to mention snippets of his versions of ‘It’s Like That,’ ‘No Limits’ and … ‘500 Miles.’

One had to ponder what the Reid Bruvs from ‘muchty would have made of it.

But Lorenz brought the house down.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

After that the night tapers off, ‘balustrade,’ devil, keirins – but we can’t disappear after that, not with our boy back in the lead – we have to wait until the death and the final presentations to chaperone him.

I think I slept with my creds still on.

* * *

Day Six

An early start so an early-ish finish.

But on the last night it’s all about the final 60 minute chase and the nervous tension building before the pistol shot that uncorks the genie.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Burkart and Havik fought hard but when De Ketele powered up the turbine it was only ever going to end one way.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Jesper Mørkøv. Photo©Ed Hood

Mørkøv/Grasmann launched a monster dig late in the day but the De Ketele counter was swift and decisive.

Bremen Six Day 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

A very good, entertaining Six Day, an excellent, theatrical finale and we had a team on the podium.

Not much more a man can ask for … well, perhaps a decent night’s sleep.

And not having to wait two hours on Achim clearing the Dopingkontrolle – testing 12 riders, blood and urine with one doctor – it’s never as slick as you think it will be.