Kris was just telling us that oxygen cylinders are banned from track centres under UCI regulations. Marc piped-up; "that's a pity, I could have done with a cylinder strapped to my back on the first night!" He's one of the boys now, amazing how much difference a couple of days can make to relationships. It's wet outside and very warm in here, there was a big junior and ladies programme in the morning, complete with the usual crashes. Belgian junior track racing is not for those of a nervous disposition.
Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007. It's 18.00, the juniors are up and keeping the red cross busy. At a time when any sensible person is contemplating a movie then a nice pasta and bottle of red at their favourite Italian restaurant in the company of their sweetheart, we're just about to start work.
"Aint go bump no mo' with no big fat woman!" Seventies disco and six-day racing - Hot Chocolate, Van McCoy, Cool and the Gang and Joe Tex; the biz! It's 19.35 and the theme from Chariots of Fire is blasting-out, Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007 and we're off!
Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007. Kris picked me up at Dusseldorf Weeze airport at tea time yesterday (Wednesday), it's actually only about two kilometres from Holland so it wasn't long before we found a frites stand. Hasselt is in the Limburg region of Belgium, Flemish speaking and with a population of about 70,000. The local tourist office brochure tries hard to talk the town up but there's not much to say - a nice-enough place though.
The Copenhagen Six Day 2005; Danny Kaye is telling me over the public address that it's "Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen". I'm not so sure: it's gone 1.00 am and we have 18 Lycra jerseys; 18 under-vests; six pairs of chamois-lined cycling shorts; six pairs of socks and six pairs of track mitts to hand wash, spin dry and hang up to dry in our 'cabin' in the bowels of the stadium. Welcome to the glamorous world of Six Day bicycle racing.
The last day at Grenoble Six Day 2006 isn't too hard for the riders, there's a points race, a time trial and then the big chase - 180 laps of the 210 meter track. I did hear guys complain though that the lack of warm-up races made for sore legs early in the Madison.
It's 9.30 and I'm just up, Kris sleeps in the camper van. He says it's more comfortable, but I think it's because I snore so badly. It was interesting at breakfast today; the guys were talking about what they did before they were full-time pro cyclists.
It was musical jerseys last night, Franco & Alex Aeschbach took over in the lead, Michael & Alex Rasmussen swopped the leader's jerseys for the points leaders maillot vert but Jozi & Martin lost the combine jersey to DeFauw & Van Mechelen of Belgium.
Sometimes, you wonder why you are doing this - OK, it's great being around guys like Franco Marvulli and having an insight into the inner-sanctum, but it's hard work, often boring and stressed guys aren't fun to be around.
Some times it's difficult to get an interview, especially if your target is World Road Race Champion, Paolo Bettini. He has a Quick Step entourage with him and he's testing his new Specialized road bike for 2007. But us VeloVeritas guys are persistent, and after stalking him all afternoon I was granted just five minutes of his precious time.
Grenoble Six Day 2006. 17.45: Where did the day go? They are playing Puccini over the stadium PA, the folies girls are rehearsing their routine, you would have to be here to appreciate it, but it's awesome.
11.20: Picked-up the Danish guys, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv at Lyon airport. It's a hassle because it's hard to park the camper and security is tight. Alex looks slimmer than last season whilst Michael is still skeletal. We have to drive all the way back to Grenoble now. At least the sun is out and the scenery is good.
Six Day races; they're all fixed, aren't they? Yeah, for sure... all you have to do is take a lap from Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli when they are at 97.5 % instead of 'full-gas'. That's maybe 57 kph instead of 58 - Easy! That'll be how then-reigning World Champions, Bob Hayles and Mark Cavendish, were 34 laps down at Ghent last year: because it's so "easy". The truth is that the Sixes are 'choreographed', but if you don't have the legs, you can't win.
"What a difference a day makes," as Esther Phillips once sang. Tuesday afternoon, Charleroi, Belgium and it's cold, grey, wet and windy. We're on our way to the Grenoble Six Day 2006. It has taken us nearly ten hours on the motorway to get to Lyon having been battered by cross-winds and cut-up by manic East European truckers.
Jason MacIntyre made it a neat half dozen Scottish individual titles for 2006 with a 16 second winning margin over fast-improving Irishman, Raymond Wilson (Dunfermline CC) in the Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the Bonnyton Moor climb near Eaglesham on Saturday afternoon.
Who else but Jason MacIntyre ran out the winner of this year's Tour des Trossachs classic time trial, held around Aberfoyle, Scotland. A solid minute and a half space between him and Evan Oliphant, with Ray Wilson in third a further minute back.
The Dunfermline team of I. Condie and R. Wilson won the Phil Young Memorial GP Des Gents time trial by nearly a minute on actual time, meaning that they also won the race on handicap, but only by a small margin: eight seconds.
Jason McIntyre continued his domination of time trialling with an emphatic win over Arthur Doyle and Berry McGurk in the Tour of the Campsies, over two an a half minutes clear.
The A C Yule Trophy, awarded to the fastest rider from the organising club (Aberdeen Wheelers), was won by veteran roadman Bob Cowie in a time of 25min 13secs. The event was won by Dave Black (Sandy Wallace Cycles) from Forres, in a time of 22min 26secs, beating Tri-changing Gear's Sean Monaghan into 2nd place by a mere 6secs. Sean's Tri-changing Gear team-mate, Colin Duncan was 3rd in 22min 45secs.
The results of the "Rising Westerly" 100 Mile Time Trial held on the Aberdeen/Stonehaven/Deeside course, and organised by GS Corsa. Carlos Riise (Shetland Wheelers) made another successful "air"“raid" on mainland cycling by comfortably winning the "Rising Westerly" by over 14 minutes from Granite City RT's Norman Skene. Sadly, Scottish 12hr Champion, Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) crashed at Aboyne and was forced to retire. Carlos reported that Joe was probably just over a minute up on him at the time.
Barry McGurk of the Glasgow Couriers ran away with the Johnstone Wheelers CC 25 Mile Individual Time Trial, nearly two minutes ahead of second placed Alan Dow, with Billy McFarlane third.
Jason MacIntyre followed his outstanding win in the British 25 mile TT Champs with an equally fantastic result in the British Time Trial Championship 2006, taking some superb scalps such as Michael Hutchinson, Jonathan Dayus, and Stuart Dangerfield.
Despite his flyweight 56 kilos Eddie Dunbar has already established himself as one of the worlds' best U23 riders with top ten finishes in the European and World U23 Time Trial Championships - and riding for the Irish team rather than his usual US Axeon Hagens Berman team he took Ronde victory in that bike riders’ Mecca, historic Oudenaarde.
‘I’m a Believer,’ a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968. I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it. What a relief.
Sometimes on the big tours you have to change plans; road closures, janitors, barrier crews, motorway crashes can all influence your 'best laid plans.' At the end of the day you may not have missed deadline - we rarely do - but there'll be that feeling that you could have done better. Then there are days when you have to struggle then struggle some more but eventually it comes together, you get to where you want to be and get those special pictures.
‘The best Commonwealth Games performance ever by the Scottish cycling team’ – that’s for sure. VeloVeritas hopes to speak to all of the athletes concerned and we’re proud to start with individual pursuit silver medallist, John Archibald.
In 2016 in Belgium Ethan Hayter won the tough junior races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, GP Serge Baguet, De Klijte-Heuvaelland, was in the winning team in junior European team pursuit champs and was British Madison champion with Joe Holt. Last year he won the u23 Berlin Six Day with Matt Walls, took a medal in every British track championship he rode and was part of the winning u23 Europeans team pursuit squad. This season he began training with the senior team in January and was world champion within weeks, at 19 years-of-age.
That man John Archibald is back in action again – and with a 48 minutes and 13 seconds ‘BANG !’ down on the Westferry course in the CTT ‘25’ Champs on Sunday past. It gave us a good excuse to catch up with the Commonwealth Games individual pursuit silver medallist and see what he’s been up to since The Gold Coast and what’s next on the agenda for him?