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.
That’s not to mention French radio; the first song I heard today was, “Super Nana” a plaintive lament to the singer’s granny.
But this morning, when you walk up the ramp out of the stadium into the October sun, feel it warm on your skin, look up at the mountains and wander over to the bakers to pick-up the warm baguettes, “bonjour monsieur, ca va?” -it’s cool – a gig.
It’s 1.00 pm Saturday and I’ve got a (slow) internet connection so I’m getting my pictures sent from my laptop while I write this on the BlackBerry. Franco is up on the boards training just now, he’ll be talking to VeloVeritas before the race is over about life as a six-day man. He has also promised to get me an interview with Bettini – watch this space!
It’s 6.30 now, why does clandestine beer always taste better? I’m on the way back from the mini-mart but have stopped-off for one presion at my new “local”. I left Jozef in the cabin having a post-training toastie. He had a “controle” (drug test) last night and had to drink liters and liters of water to produce a sample. “I piss six or seven times during the night!”
It’s a glamorous life being a six day guy, sitting in a dimly-lit corridor with a bottle of mineral water at gone 2.00 am. One of the “events” that the sprinters have here is a stand-still contest.
The crowd seems to love it and the “speaker” makes it all sound great, they do leave it until quite late in the night though, so that plenty of fine wine has flowed.
There were eight sprinters up but one fell off in the first minute. Craig MacLean was second, around 20 minutes, but Tournand lasted over half an hour.
I spoke to Craig when he came down and he said the killer was his wrists, Tournand must have really strong wrists, or be really sad – you choose.
Craig cycles in to the track from the hotel and back again at night, his carbon Dolan sprint bike is drilled for a front brake and he has a front light bracket on the handlebars which he raced with!
Craig used to do this when he rode Meadowbank Track League in Edinburgh as a young lad, and despite being one of the best riders in the world, he hasn’t changed a bit.
I was holding him up for a sprint last night, we were next to Robert Chiappa the Italian sprinter, who un-did Craig’s toe straps and my laces as we awaited the start – good banter. Bettini looked a bit better last night but it’s hardly savage racing.
The boys ate a bit more – muesli bars, fruit jellies, rice and the odd biscuit.
They consume vast quantities of soft drinks and mineral water. Apart from the effort of racing it’s very hot in the stadium and easy to dehydrate.
Between races the guys often don’t put racing jerseys on, they just sit in their under-vests to try and cool down.
It was crash-free and the French guys even managed to win a race or two (somehow).
Jozi and Martin were happy, Patrick Sercu arrived last night and had a contract for the Ghent Six for them in his pocket. Sercu is the undisputed King of the Sixes. He won 88 in his long career, plus World sprint and Olympic Kilometer Championships.
That’s not to mention his road career which included a Tour de France green jersey. He’s the main-man now as far as who rides what, nothing happens in the sixes without Patrick’s say-so.
Apparently he’s struggling to put a good field together for Ghent. There’s a World Cup event on in Sydney and the German Federation are taking all their best riders to a training camp at the same time as the Flemish race so he’s having to work hard to get a strong start sheet – not something he is used to.
I’m tidying this up track-side on the BlackBerry Sunday lunch time while I try and get more pictures away on the laptop. Best get back down that cabin and see what Kris needs done, talk to you later.