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.
13.00 pm: Back at the stadium; there’s Bettini – and his silver Porsche. There’s nothing of him, he’s small, slim and smiles readily. Shopping time for Ed: four toasting bread, four sliced cheese and two packets of ham. Michael and Alex need fed, so there’s pizza to get too.
13.30: Michael has been talking to Marco Villa, “It is Paolo’s first Madison so we take it easy tonight, eh?”
14.00: Two disasters, the kettle isn’t working and I left out the little tubs of rice, Rasmussen, aka “the chow hound” has zero-ed in on them and done-in two before you can blink. Kris isn’t happy, “I told you to put those away, they’re for the track cabins!” It would be hard to be on an ego-trip as a ‘garcon de course’.
1430: Most of the guys are on the track, loosening their legs, including the Greek guy, Tamouridis – a Greek six-day man? I have to have a word with him. Bettini’s up too, an awesome bike rider he may be but stylish he isn’t.
16.00: Massage time, my chores just go on and on, including washing one of the cabin floors on my hands and knees after Kris spilt the eau de cologne.
18.00: The riders are at the riders meeting. They arrive back needing fed, but it’s China Syndrome – a major disaster – the tin opener has broken. I sprint up to the van for the reserve but it has vanished; good job I know where Kris has the Swiss Army knife stashed.
19.00: The juniors and ladies are on the track and our guys are napping or having light massage.
20.10: Row from Franco for not making sure he gets the black wine gums.
20.25: The pros are presented, it’s not the usual up-and-down the track “rolling” presentation, rather they are introduced to the crowd from up in the stands with flood lights and drum rolls.
Tour de France speaker Daniel Mangas does the intros, he’s the stats-man supreme.
20.45: Jacqueline Alvarez entertains us with a balancing act.
20.55: Give Craig MacLean a push at the start of the Keirin, he’s down to ride the sprint tournament, and you have to look after your own.
21.05: The first pro event, a 36 lap sprint series. And so it goes on, singers, jugglers, strong men, sprinters and six-day riders.
Midnight: Stroentinga tastes the boards in the second chase of the night, right in front of us, a young French rider in his first – and probably last – six takes him out. It nips!
00.10: Another “chute”, right in front of us again, the young French guys are out of their depth and losing the plot when they get tired.
One of the French guys goes over the crash barrier into the crowd. Alex comes down, but not too bad, just a lot of skin gone.
Both his wheels are goners though. The tyres of the French guys who came down had rolled off when they came down – that’s unforgivable.
Despite the fact that Rasmussen’s wheel is folded double, the tyre is still attached.
Part-time riders have part-time mechanics and nowhere is it more important – or obvious – that you have a good mechanic than on a 6 Day track.
The race is neutralised, bodies everywhere and huge scrapes in the boards. it’s not everyday you see a Tour de France winner with sand paper, but Bernard Thevenet is rubbing with the best of them. The racing restarts eventually but the crowd is thinning and at around 01.30 it’s all over for day one with Rasmussen and Morkov in the lead.
Take the riders clothes, helmets and shoes down, tidy the cabins, start the washing – no electricity.
03.00: Kris has washed and spun the clothes – in the corridor to get electric. I’ve sorted them, hung them to dry and tidied-up. It’s time for a bottle of beer and a ham sandwich – welcome to Grenoble.