Rotterdam Six Day 2011, it’s approaching midnight, we’re in the camper, headed north out of Holland to Bremen in Germany on a pan flat, black motorway.
Kris is headed for the Six Days of Bremen to work with Franco Marvulli (fingers crossed that he’s well) and Jens-Erik Madsen.
I fly home to Bonnie Scotland from Bremen – my next Six is Berlin, for the last two days, then Copenhagen.
Stam/Van Bon won in Rotterdam from Keisse/De Ketele and Bartko/Ligthart – despite Ligthart looking near death for much of the last chase.
Michael and Jens-Erik were fourth, but as strong, if not stronger than anyone else on the track.
But it’s Holland, it’s the Rotterdam Six Day 2011 and there’s a crowd to entertain – and most spectators will be going home happy.
Bos/Schep were the best team on the track for the first four days but Big Theo took ill yesterday and pulled out today.
I snapped a disconsolate Schep talking to Dutch radio during the final chase, which he obviously sat out.
I started my write up of today what seems like weeks ago, but I must have been around lunch time…
There’s a great Charlton Heston 70’s sci-fi film called Soylent Green; the premise is that it’s the near future and the USA is hugely over populated – the Government feeds the population with a miracle food called, ‘Soylent Green.’
Which – unknowns to the populace – is made from recycled corpses.
I can’t be sure, but I think it was Soylent Green in the canteen last night – I had salad and two yoghurts.
It was mellow in the track centre at 17:20, no-one on the boards, ‘Dream a Little Dream For Me‘ and ‘Blue Bayou‘ soft on the PA – a glass of red would have made it perfect.
One hour later, ‘Saturday Night‘ is hammering out as the U23 race flies around us; Tim Mertens, Marc Hester and our own Michael Mørkøv all served their apprenticeships in the UiV Cup for U23 riders.
Britain’s Mick Bennett presented the prizes for the UiV – he won the amateur six here in the 70’s with our pal Viktor’s hero, Grant Thomas.
No WCPP, no ‘stealth’ bikes, no ‘recalibrations’ just talent and will to win.
Bennett was a multiple British Track Champion as well as a Commonwealth Games, World Championship and Olympic Games Team Pursuit medallist.
Grant? No Olympic medals for him – but certainly ‘legend’ status.
Charline came to visit us tonight, I introduced her to Michael and Jens.
When I bring male friends to the cabin for an intro, the boys are always polite; but bring a pretty girl and all-of-a-sudden they’re not just polite but also very attentive.
They’re the best.
Charline was third in the flying lap, tonight.
She’s off to the UCI cycling school in Aigle, soon – we wish her well.
The programme was different tonight, the normal format is to have the main chase mid-evening, then a shorter one to close the night – it’s not usually a frantic affair.
But tonight the main chase was the show closer – one hour plus 10 laps with sprint points every ten for the last 50 ronden.
On the last night it’s always the same at Sixes, the races before the big chase go past almost unnoticed, everyone is focussed on the finale.
If you’re a runner then you miss the start of the chase because it’s ‘break camp’ time – the little environments which you carefully created and have been home for a week are ruthlessly dismantled and packed away ’til next time.
In the ‘good old days,’ sometimes the next race would start the following evening – as many as 800 kilometres away.
The racing was quick enough but there was a spell coming in to those last 50 laps which must rank as just about the fastest madison racing I’ve ever seen – the slow running lane was shaking beneath my feet as the mass of the string was catapulted out of the banking by the G-force.
It was scary quick – some riders were absolutely wasted, clinging on by their finger nails.
But as it entered the last 50 laps it was all about sprint points and it calmed down as the tactics kicked in.
The lead see-sawed but there was never much doubt that it was going to be Danny’s name painted on the stand fence, yet again.
He may not be the Danny of the Slippens & Stam days – at their best a dashing, cavalier, spectacular pairing – but he’s still one of the best on the track.
And Van Bon is solid, very smooth, very strong – he’s done a good job of reinventing himself as a Six day rider.
And now it’s 09:15 and we’re in Germany, we drove for a couple of hours last night, slept in the camper for maybe five hours and then rolled back out on to the concrete section.
The last night or two of a Six, you think; ‘it’ll be great to get home to my own bed, nice food, the real world.‘
But when it’s over and you’re driving to the airport or ferry you realise that tonight there’ll be no rumble of rock hard rubber on wood, Haddaway singing ‘Baby don’t hurt me‘ at “harmful” levels, droning dernys, rows of wide-eyed fans gazing down at the show or banter with the boys.
Those Six Days; they get inside you…
Rotterdam Six Day 2011 Result
Final results after Day 6
1 Danny Stam / Léon van Bon (Ned) 286 pts
2 Kenny De Ketele / Iljo Keisse (Bel) 284
3 Robert Bartko / Pim Ligthart (Ger/Ned) 239
4 (-2 laps) Michael Mørkøv / Jens-Erik Madsen (Den) 231
5 (-3 laps) Leif Lampater / Niki Terpstra (Ger/Ned) 192
6 (-5 laps) Matthé Pronk / Jens Mouris (Ned) 133
7 (-10 laps) Marc Hester / Geert-Jan Jonkman (Den/Ned) 161
8 (-10 laps) Yoeri Havik / Nick Stöpler (Ned) 149
9 (-13 laps) Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) / Tim Mertens (Bel) 206
10 (-17 laps) Raymond Kreder / Michel Kreder (Ned) 103
11 (-17 laps) Kenny van Hummel / Andreas Müller (Ned/Ger) 62
12 (-29 laps) Bobbie Traksel / Tim Veldt (Ned) 114