'Sad news, Donna Summer has passed away' said the text from Martyn Frank. That news cast a shadow over a day of bright sunshine and hills. The start was down on the coast - it's not quite beach season, so it's not heaving yet. In a month's time you won't be able to move on those beaches. We had a chat with Jack Bauer before the stage - he looks in great condition.
A man who's been working hard in defence of Garmin's pink jerseys - first on the shoulders of Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas and then Canada's Ryder Hesjedal - is Danish fast man, Alex Rasmussen. Alex took time to chat to his six day runner before the roll out at Assisi on Wednesday. If he'd had been one of the counting riders in the team time trial, it would have been him pulling on the pink jersey, not his Lithuanian team mate.
Giorgio Moroder's 'The Chase' from Midnight Express pumps out across the Civitavecchia sea front. A huge fibre glass sculpture of a nurse succumbing to the charms of a sailor - 'Unconditional Surrender' it's titled - towers over us. The whole scene is surreal, topped off by Pippo ambling past in shorts and T-shirt. He broke his hand yesterday and is out - but he still looks cool.
It looked to us like Cav and Goss were out of it anyway. There were a lot of riders round that wild bend before we saw Matt on the deck and Pippo looking a tad sheepish as he stood in the road checking to see how that nice MCipollini had stood up to being dropped.
The Jason MacInyre Memorial Trophy stays on Dooleys Cycles' Arthur Doyle's mantlepiece for another year, after he edged the win this morning in the "10 Champs" by a single second from teammate Iain Grant, with Gavin Shirley in 13th place backing them up for the Team prize in a time which we think is a new Scottish Competition Team Record by four seconds. Paisley Velo's Ben Peacock was third a meagre four seconds back.
Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the overall race lead. Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez is second at just nine seconds.' So said the official Giro press release - you'll read that again, on various websites. Press releases are where much of the daily content on web sites come from. The difference with us, is that we tell you we're quoting them.
In a sunny but very windy Lincolnshire Endura Racing's Russell Downing rode a strong race of attrition today to take his fourth Lincoln GP in a sprint ahead of breakaway companion Marcin Bialoblocki (NODE4 Giordana Racing) and over a minute an a quarter ahead of previous winner Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp).
I didn't manage to see stage seven - it fell on 'D minus one' for the VeloVeritas annual excursion to Italia. The loose ends were many and instead of having plenty of time to pack my bag and watch the Giro, I was 'running aboot daft' in the van. And Saturday evening rituals still had to be observed - a wee bite to eat and a movie. It's not as if you can say; 'I'm off to Italy the morn love, so we're no' going out tonight - I have a bag to pack and a Giro stage to skek !'
It was a tough one - Farrar, Feillu and Hushovd all go home. The dream is over for Navardauskas - he lost 15 minutes. But his Garmin team mates Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde move up to third and fifth on GC. Garmin will burn up the watts in search of more pink - they know it'll be harder to come by when the Gazzetta stage ranking is a 5* and not a 3*, as yesterday's was.
I have to be careful with this one. Cav: I think I might be turning in to a fan! There ! - I've said it. To take his first stage, he had to display coolness, decisiveness and pure speed.
A sore one for Phinney - he's conducted himself well, but once those cycling Gods single you out, they don't let go, easily. He struggled on the climb and then overcooked it on a left-hand bend, there'll be pics everywhere tomorrow of that grass sprouting from his rear mech. Garmin were no surprise - just a pity that Alex Rasmussen got the mallet, it would be nice to say I had a friend who'd worn the pink jersey.
Now there's a misnomer; 'rest day.' But 'day to facilitate huge transfer which we have to carry out after our money spinning exercise in Denmark' doesn't quite roll off the tongue as easily. Let's go back to the reason the UCI introduced two rest days into Grant Tours, along with regulations to govern stage and total race lengths. There's a clue in the name, 'rest' - it was part of a raft of measures designed to lessen the stresses and strains on the riders. Read; 'stop them having to kit up.' But rest days have now become a vehicle for crazy transfers.
My club mate Davie Gardiner, in the Kirkcaldy and District CC, back in 1971 used to say that when he meant things were going swimmingly well; 'it was aw ice cream an' fairies !' Cav had one of those days, yesterday. Not so, today. Rainbow jerseys, Sunday Times 'richest sportsmen' lists, bouquets and praise for team mates all fell by the wayside as his little body slapped hard onto that Danish tarmac.
Cav is King. If these were Medieval times I'd have to throw myself on his mercy. Prostrate myself at the foot of the steps to the Sky bus, next Monday in Frosinone. Trust that in the joy of his re-confirmation as king of Denmark he'd be merciful. How could I doubt him ?
'My heart says Alex, but my head says Phinney,' my statement as I walked out the door of our rented cottage in search of a stable wi-fi connection. I would have loved Alex Rasmussen to win, but something told me that he wasn't 'sparkling.' And the same voice told me it was too far for Geraint Thomas.
If we take Tom Boonen’s epics out of the equation there’s no doubt about the best finale of the year. The end game of stage seven of the Presidential Tour of Turkey saw a break of seven riders clear with six kilometres to go. Despite their lead plummeting as an angry peloton closed them down, there were riders skiving and scheming. One man was having none of it and with just over five kilometres to go he bolted – Iljo Keisse.
Californian Daniel Holloway, aka ‘Hollywood’ was a surprise addition to the ranks of Raleigh, this season. Known as a man who likes to have fun, his jokes and vast array of "Oakleys for every occasion" disguise the fact that the 24-year old is a quality athlete.
Dreams, we all have them, but most of us don’t realise them. When Kenny De Ketele was a boy, he’d go to the Kuipke velodrome in Gent to watch the Six Days and dream of riding and winning on the hallowed boards. And he’d look at the world champions in their sparkling white rainbow jerseys and dream of the day when he could pull one over his head. But unlike most of us, Kenny has realised his dreams.
Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) started his season well with two stage victories at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in February and the opening road Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen last week, and he continued his great form with a superb sprint victory in Nokere-Koerse today, using his knowledge of the finale to distance Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare) in the uphill gallop to the line.
With the World Track Championships only a few weeks away, we thought we'd talk to some top riders who you may know not much about, guys with interesting stories to tell, our "left-field' stars. Cleveland, Ohio, 1949: and when Charles Bergna and Cecil Yates hoisted their bouquets over their heads little did they know that it would be more than 50 years before another US pairing would do the same thing. It was Bergna's third win in Cleveland, his final career total was five wins; Yates was more prolific with 16 wins-but it was te end of the Golden Age for US Six Day riders. It was Moscow in 2002 before the Stars and Stripes would fly for both riders at the end of a Six Day race-for 2000 Olympic sprint champion Marty Nothstein and our left-fielder, Ryan Oelkers.
On a bright but sometimes cold and blustery Saturday afternoon in beautiful East Lothian, the Scottish National Road Race Series got off to a surprising start as Velo Ecosse junior, Tom Arnstein beat all the favourites to win; outsprinting tester supreme, Arthur Doyle (www.Dooleys-Cycles). Arnstein stuck to the golden rule of Scottish road racing-'never ignore the early break'-a tactic which paid off handsomely.
From the point that his Sky Procycling teammates took up station on the front of the peloton with 60km to go, Mark Cavendish never looked like losing today, and so it proved as he swept to an easy bunch sprint win over FDJ-Big Mat's Yauheni Hutarovich with Vacansoleil-DCM's Kenny Van Hummel in third.
Sep Vanmarcke instigated the main splits of the day, survived the many crashes on the slippy roads, rode strongly in the breaks and the final winning move, foxed and feigned heavy legs beautifully in the last couple of kilometres and finished the day with a fine accelerating power-sprint win over Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha.
VeloVeritas spoke recently to Commonwealth Games Team Sprint Silver Medallist Charline Joiner after her ride at the Rotterdam Six Day.
Who makes sure the wheels turn smoothly during a six day race? The mechanics are the men who change the gears, stick on the tyres, endlessly polish the paintwork and pick up the pieces after crashes. They arrive first to build the bikes up and leave last after having stripped the bikes down for transit. What makes a man want to roam Europe, often driving a thousand kilometres through the night to get to the next race - or to get home? We spoke to circuit spanner man, Dirk Dekeyser at the Grenoble Six.
Fietsenphotography's John Young has supplied us with lots of great images from the Six Day season this winter, and it's been great to focus on some racing, rather than all the other stories which mire the sport's image. John's photos have illustrated our recent Diary pieces from Denmark, but we have lots left that we haven't used, we're sure you'll enjoy looking through them to get the flavour of the final Six of the season.
The camper, 10:23 Wednesday morning, and it's all over. The cabins are bare; Dirk is in his camper headed for Drongen; Jackie and his dad have been safely deposited at the airport and we're heading into Copenhagen for a little bit of R & R before we get the plane home.
It's another big madison tonight; 75 kilometres/300 laps, but with a 'twist'-it's a handicap. Bartko/Lampater, Stam/Stroetinga and Alex/Michael give away six laps to Jackie/Schröder-with the rest of the field somewhere in between. The final laps count for the overall so there's no messing; if a big team doesn't pull the laps back then they're lost. Really, all that goes before the handicap is just to whet the appetite-there are a lot of nervous cyclists in the cabins.
Sprints to start and Hazel Dean thumps out, quality high energy from the 80's 'Searchin'-quality. Followed by 'Livin in America' from the late, great James Brown-we're in luck, tonight. And then 'Cara Mia' to start the 75 lap chase-I never get tired of that tune. The two chases weren't bad at all-for a Sunday, that is.
Danny Clark; in a world where the word 'legend' is used too often, it's wholly appropriate in the case of the Australian. He holds the record for the number of six day starts at 236 and he's second in the all time winner ranks with 74-unsurprisingly he's 'double Recordman' here at Copenhagen with eight wins off 21 starts. He's here driving the Derny (and singing!) but clocks up an hour plus on the track every day-he looks better now than he did 20 years ago.
'Rivers of Babylon' by the Melodians, now there's a tune to fold jerseys by-until the guy in the cabin next door hops on his rollers, that is. And there was me looking for some peace on a Saturday morning-a split day today with afternoon and evening sessions. We don't like double sessions, neither do the riders, but like the song says; 'That's just the way it is.' Last night wasn't a bad one . . .
The gun fires, the bongos rattle, 'Cara Mia' blasts, the rattle of chains and rumble of rubber on wood builds and the chase which kicks off the 50th Six Days of Copenhagen is up and running. But it's not any old chase, since I first walked up the steps from the tunnel when we arrived here on Wednesday afternoon the lap board has been displaying a short but grim message-400. That's 400 laps at 250 metres for each lap; I'll help with the arithmetic-100 kilometres.
Daniel Holloway and Colby Pearce are regulars on the Six Day scene; US riders win classics and Grand Tours, there are US Pro Tour teams. It was different in 1970; with not one US rider holding a professional licence-enter Jack Simes. We spoke to the man who was the first US rider to turn a pedal on the Six Day tracks for nearly 20 years and who hopes to bring the sport back to its spiritual home in the USA.
The line of taxi lights stretches back into the darkness like a string of pearls, it's beautiful in an a big city kind of a way - it could be a scene from a Woody Allen film; but it's not Manhattan, it's Berlin at 01:40 am. The beige Merc cabs get to drive down to the underground Velodrom entrance to pick up ViPs, meanwhile the support staff - that's us - have to hi-jack a supermarket trolley and use the lift to take our stuff up to the camper.
The Berlin Six Day finished with a win for the Aussie World Champions Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard (wine gum thief), we hope you enjoyed our daily diaries from the inside. Also at the track to capture the racing was our pal John Young, of Fietsenphotography, and once again he's been very nice and supplied us with loads of great images.
It's gone 1:00 am, the Dernys buzz their 'Ipcress' noise, Brad eases down off the fence, he takes the sling off Jackie, tucks in behind the little monster and Mr. Simes is done for the night. Brad has 25 laps to go with just a few knots of hardcore fans in the stands to watch him-and the drinkers in the track centre, naturally. 'That's the first time this week the driver hasn't ripped the legs off me!' says Jackie as he gets ready for the dash to the cabin, a shower and then the peace of the hotel room.
Sundays at German Sixes are and have always been 'family day' (Familientag) when the programme of sport and entertainment is held during the afternoon rather than in the evening or night. On a cold wind-chilled winter afternoon, local families came along to the Landsberger Allee Velodrome to enjoy the racing and pass on the tradition from one generation to the next. The race programme kicked off with a series of Sprints won by Kalz - Bengsch who are looking like the real deal this time around and should continue to challenge for a podium place.
Jackie summed it up best when I asked if he'd slept well; 'yeah, but just not long enough!' But Dirk had a take on it too; 'why can't we just go straight from Saturday to Monday?' There's always a down beat Johnny Cash kind of vibe to Sunday afternoons sessions; 'the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert.' But once the shower blasts and the coffee blends, it's not so bad.
The 101st Berliner Sechstage Rennen started on Thursday and according to reports the crowds have been down a little on last night. On the track big gaps have already appeared as the top five teams have started the fight that will conclude in the final hour long Madison on Tuesday night.
The National Cycling Centre in Manchester was completely sold out as Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy ramped up his preparation for the UCI Track World Cup at the new London Olympic velodrome. Hoy qualified fastest in the morning session, but lost out on the initial face off against Jason Kenny and was unable to get the better of some of his sprinting rivals. With the test event just two weeks away and the Olympics only six months down the line, the Revolution provided a perfect backdrop for some serious sprinting competition.
'Just Another Tequila Sunrise,' it's ironic that the covers band who kick off as soon as the racing finishes at gone 01:00AM aren't half bad - but it's time for me to disappear down the tunnel to hang up the washing etc. etc. The track centre party goes on 'til 02:30 am but I hope to be in a coma by then.
I'd forgotten the raw horror of a Frank Zander gig; 'If I Had a Hammer' was blasting out at around 11:00 pm and it occurred to me that if you're a bad musician then Germany is the place to be. Frank sounds like a guy with a really bad throat infection singing the 'Worst Europop Album in the World, Ever' on a karaoke night at the Lochore Miners Welfare-but the crowd love the man, so who am I to criticise?
I'm standing on the chair so as I can see over the cabin, Leif Lampater and Roger Kluge are the only pair left to ride in the 1,000 metres time trial. Roger is smooth, fast, the sling to Leif isn't perfect but it's not too bad. Leif drives but he's not at his best - it seems like no one is on this first night in Berlin - the digits whirl on the lap board, he sprints up the home straight, 58 seconds.
The Berlin Six Day reached a golden milestone last January with its 100th edition, and the annual festivities will return to the German Capital for the 101st time on Thursday. Unfortunately Six Day racing continues to be in decline and it's not something that can solely be laid at the door of the global economy rather just a sad fact of life that times change.
Here's a few photos from the Bremen Six Day that we haven't used in other articles.
I'm tidying this piece up on Thursday, we got back at the crack of dawn on Wednesday and I launched straight back into the 'real world.' I didn't have much time to think about anything other than getting round my calls. But tonight I've been taking stock of the Sixes - or in the case of Zurich and Grenoble make that 'fours.'
We had Frank Sinatra for the sprint series last night, never a bad thing. Bed was just before midnight and I didn't get up until 09:00 - just braw. I just about got all of the words and pictures up to date. It was the usual 20:00-ish kick off; rolling presentation, minor race then into the first chase - it wasn't a 'mega.'
Sunday afternoon at the Bremen Six Day, but no Sunday Post or relaxed breakfast on this watch. The Dernys drone, the speaker bellows himself hoarse, there's a wiff of vomit in the air - one of those wasted guys I saw last night must have been creative with where they threw up so the cleaners couldn't get to it - but there's a Kool And The Gang medley flowing from the PA - 'Let's go Dancin' and 'Celebration' - good sounds, so mustn't grumble.
It's 23:11 and the 500 metre time trial has just finished here at the Bremen Six Day. We're awaiting the start of the 300 lap chase, and the singer has kicked off. He's currently butchering 'Sailing' - a cool song, not Rod's version, the original Sutherland Brothers version. But worse, we just had, 'Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep' in Deutsch - it doesn't come much worse.
To misquote Shakespeare; 'that which I greatly feared is upon us.' Brad hasn't been taking bottles in the chases thus far and we'd no reason to think he'd start tonight, but he did. Right at the moment his mitted hand clutched that bottle, my heart sank - I've lived this nightmare before.
It’s not just the boys which the Rayner Fund supports, the young ladies get their opportunities. Here’s what 19 year-old Miss Henrietta Colborne from the north of England had to tell us...
If there’s a rider more closely associated with a city than Iljo Keisse is with Gent then I can’t think of it. Born and bred in the capital of East Flanders, raised on the boards of the Blaarmeersen velodrome, the Gentenaars love him and he loves them. Iljo's dad, Ronie Keisse owns the legendary Café de Karper, a favourite student haunt in Gent, just a five minute walk from the Kuipke and the only place to be on a November Sunday evening when the Six Day finishes, so we sat down with Ronie on the Monday morning after the Six to discuss the life and times of his boy, one of the very last real ‘vedettes’ – star Six Day men.
Steve Cummings? He’s the real deal; a world champion on the track in the team pursuit; he paid his dues with Landbouwkrediet and Barloworld; rode for the ‘mega’ teams, Discovery, Sky, BMC; was part of that famous team which carried Cav to a rainbow jersey in Copenhagen but now he’s found his true niche – with South African squad Dimension Data. Last year the team raced as MTN-Qhubeka with Cummings netting a brilliant stage win in le Tour; this year the squad, with new sponsors has taken Cav on board and moved up to the World Tour.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year is an interesting proposition for Scotland, with Katie Archibald and Callum Skinner now Olympic champions, Mark Stewart a double under 23 European Champion and Neah Evans on the top step of a World Cup podium - and don't forget 'left fielder' Jonny Wale, reigning British team pursuit champion and 1:01 kilometre man. VeloVeritas spoke to all of them about their 2017 seasons and prospects in Australia come the spring, and we start with Callum Skinner...
John Pierce is one of the world’s great sports photographers, he’s a friend of VeloVeritas and in our site’s best tradition, the man can RANT about the sport he’s been a part of for 50 years. We had a good long chat with John about his racing and photography careers - here in Part One, John tells us about his early successes and how he became interested in photography, his first equipment, his travels and adventures.
The last time we spoke to Dan Bigham (Brother NRG Wattshop) there was just a chance that he’d have to line up for the hill climb championship to net a record breaking EIGHTH British title of the year - to go with the kilometre, pursuit, team pursuit, team time trial, CTT 25 mile title, CTT 50 mile title and CTT circuit time trial title. But on the tough Cockermouth 10 mile time trial course, the day was saved when the CTT ‘10’ championship went his way too – so that’s title number eight!