Inside the Berlin Six Day 2017 – the Final Three Nights(Comments Off on Inside the Berlin Six Day 2017 – the Final Three Nights)
The wee small hours of Wednesday morning, heading north out of Berlin, en route Rostock, the ferry across the Baltic and Denmark for the Copenhagen Six Day. I wish I could say that Berlin had an epic finale – but I can’t, it was dire. Processional, flat, uninspired with no tension, no theatre, no drama.
Kris reckons it’s the worst Six Day he’s ever seen – he’s seen many, many more than me and I wouldn’t argue with his judgement. The root of the problem is that in the Madison Group Six Days the riders are on reduced contract fees with the rest of their earnings in prize money. ‘Fair enough’ I hear you say. Trouble is that it’s not – because the riders are all busy trying to hold their place in the standings it breeds very negative racing.Full Story»
Inside the Berlin Six Day 2017 – the First Three Nights(Comments Off)
You’ve got to get here first, right? Even by Ryanair punishment flight standards, it was a sore one. The lady in front of me, I’m sure was taking her kids to audition for; ‘Devil Spawn of Berlin, The Revenge’ – they’ll get the parts, no problem.
I felt like a native buying my S Bahn train ticket from the machine and riding into town with the rush hour commuters – damn cold though. It’s ‘all change’ at the velodrome, the pits have been moved into the centre of the track, divorcing us from the action and meaning we can’t push riders ‘in’ or offer them a hand to save them from kicking back on sore legs when they come in. The programme is different too with the big motors not coming out to play until after the last chase in the Six Day – happy days, so nice to walk out of the hall and leave the noise and exhaust fumes behind.
Historically cold, wet wintery nights meant just one thing in cycling, Six Day racing. In recent years that has really only meant the ‘Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent’ (Six Days of Flanders-Ghent). This great race has continued to be successful during years when many of the other ‘classic’ Six Day races of Europe left their buildings, literally, for the last time to drift into cycling history.
The Westfalenhallen in Dortmund, the Olympic Hall in Munich and the Hallenstadion in Zürich all said goodbye to Six Day racing in the naughties due to financial losses, lack of sponsorship etc, although Zürich did try to comeback with a short-lived four day. It seems they have no such problems in Gent as year after year close to 40,000 fans have come to the Citadel Park to watch their favourites fly around the steeped banked 166.6 metre inside track the legendary Het Kuipke.
Young Scots at the AVS Cup at the Gent Six Day 2016(Comments Off)
Sunday starts with the climax of the under 23 Six the AVS Cup.
Not long ago I would have struggled to believe that home grown Scottish talent would be riding Gent but with Mark Stewart in the elite event and Andy Brown and Grant Martin in the U23 this is a Scottish success story.
Berlin Six Days 2016 – Photo WrapUp(Comments Off)
This year saw edition 105 of the Six Days of Berlin, VeloVeritas had the good fortune to be there helping soigneur Kris look after Messrs. Germain Burton (GB), Daniel Holloway (USA), Mathias Krigbaum (Denmark) and Mark Stewart (Scotland).
Here’s a selection of images from under the largest unsupported steel roof in Europe on the site of what used to be the Berlin STASI Headquarters.
Scrapbook: the Gent Six Day and Hasselt ‘Cross, 2015(Comments Off)
Ed and pals spent a few days at the Gent Six Day, catching up with the racing and old friends, and taking in the world cup cycle-cross race at Hasselt as well – but before we consider the racing at the track we have to think about the entertainment; whilst Belgium is a modern country and advance technologically we still marvel at the track-side entertainment; it’s like stepping back to a miners’ welfare in the 70’s – but the crowd loves it – and so do we…
I remember once, after the last chase in a Six Day I asked Dirk, our Belgian mechanic; ‘was that finale ‘straight’ Dirk?’ He fixed me with a patient stare, much as a good parent would do after their child has said something silly, ‘have you ever seen a ‘straight’ Six Day, Ed?’
I took his point, they’re all pretty much choreographed – but like I keep saying, you have to be able to take laps out of a string riding at 52-53 kph to win. But I reckon that on Sunday evening I did see a straight finale – and our cycling sage and mentor, Vik shares my opinion having watched the finale on the computer; probably getting a better view and appreciation of the racing than I did.
The last 20 minutes or so were savage; up close you could see the pain on the faces with De Ketele and De Buyst looking increasingly determined and Cav and Iljo looking increasingly desperate.
Kris maybe summed it up best; ‘it felt like a Monday night at any another Six Day.’ There was none of the tension or expectation which usually precedes the final chase in a Six.
Granted, we weren’t looking after riders who were in the mix for the win but it was indeed, ‘just another chase.’ Maybe it was because it was clear from the start that Terpstra was the strongest man on the track and there was only going to be one winner.
It’s my first time at the Amsterdam Six Day – Kris (the soigneur I’m working with) said I needed to attend so I can say I’ve been at every one of the current winter races – and initial impressions aren’t bad; it’s a nice wee track in a good location, the old village of Sloten, a suburb of Amsterdam.
The first night I was just finding my feet but my second night (the fourth night of racing) I was in full effect doing all that ‘runner stuff.’ It soon comes back to you, the rituals, the chores, when to have a joke and when to keep schtum. And on that subject I’ll do that right now and be back in a day or two to tell you about the final two days. And just as I sign off, Claude François comes on Radio Nostalgie; ‘C’ést la Même Chanson’ – quality!
Watched by 75,000 spectators over the course of the event in the velodrome Landsberger Allee, Andreas Müller and Kenny de Ketele won the 103rd edition of the Berlin Six Day. On the last day and the last race they overtook the long-time leaders Leif Lampater and Jasper de Buyst with a race winning attack – exciting stuff. Third place went to Robert Bartko, which was his last time in Berlin at the Six with his young partner Theo Reinhardt.
VeloVeritas were at the race, working for the young American pairing Guy East and Daniel Holloway – here’s Ed’s look back at some of his favourite moments…
A pictorial summary of the Gent Six Day and our trip to the Koksijde Cyclocross race in the beach dunes of Flanders.
At the track, it took me back to the days when I stood on the apron, bottles at the ready for Kris to hand up – but not too much in them so they don’t splash when the rider grabs them – just taking in the speed, noise, music, heat, people and that Gent buzz – high as a kite on the Gent Six Days.
‘Are you ready, boys?’ asks ex-pro and new race organiser, Michael Sandstød. Then he adds with a grin; ‘Enjoy your last hour in Copenhagen!’ I’m holding Michael Mørkøv on the start line for the final chase of the 2013 Copenhagen. It’s just like old times.
Michael doesn’t work with us anymore and the memories flood back to his first win here – and to that magical night when he and Alex won in Gent. Great days.
There’s new management in Copenhagen, long term organiser Henrik Elmgreen and his wife Helle have stepped down and the reins are now held by ex-pros, Michael Sandstød and Jimmi Madsen.
The changes aren’t huge but they are there – the boxing, the brisk seven man devils, food in the stadium instead of the restaurant up the road and a change of hotel.
The last mentioned is a real pain; we used to billet in the basic but very clean and cosy ‘Zleep’ hotel which is just 500 metres away.
However, certain riders and their personnel made such idiots of themselves last year that much bad feeling was created.
It’s a lunchtime start on Sunday, Junior Senior’s ‘Everybody’ is a cool tune to organise the clothing to – but the bad news is that someone has pinched some of Sebastian Lander’s new BMC kit. I did think there were some dodgy looking youths among the ViPs last night.
Most of the guys are ‘flat’ today – with some it’s just battle fatigue, but some will no doubt be recovering from the post-race party which went on ‘til 05:00. But Barth’s not ‘flat,’ he arrives with blaring ‘boogie box’ creating white noise as it battles with the stadium PA; he’s not big on training, likes night clubs, has an all over tan and two ear rings – and has an old Sercu fan like me shaking my head.
Boxing at a bike race. No, it’s not a misprint, it worked pretty well, short and sharp with the pugilists really going at it.
I’m no boxing aficionado, but I do admire their commitment, the pros divide their day in two, rising early to do their road work – which includes running backwards for long spells – then eating and sleeping in the middle of the day before another training session in the gym in the afternoon/evening before an early bed.