In any sport there comes a time when the order changes, the old stars fade away and the new ones begin to shine brighter.
But Dane Marc Hester is no super nova, shining brightly then gone, it’s taken him several years to get to where he is in the Six Day constellation.
Despite being only 25 Hester has ridden nearly 60 Six Day races, so his three podiums this year — third at Grenoble and Bremen plus second in Copenhagen – are no surprise, more the result of a steady ascent through the heavens from UIV cup winner in 2005 to genuine contender for wins in 2011.
As well as improved results this Six Day season Hester has netted himself a contract with Michael Rasmussen’s controversial Christina Watches team for 2011.
In between races at the Six Days of Copenhagen Hester took time to talk VeloVeritas.
Did you always want to be a Six Day man, Marc?
“Always, when I was a kid my mum and grandmother took me to see the Copenhagen Six Day when it was held at the old venue in The Forum in the centre of the city — up until then I’d played football but when I saw the Six I knew right away that that was what I wanted to do.”
Your first pro team was GLS in 2005.
“Yes, Michael Mørkøv and I won the overall UIV Cup that year — the competition for under 23 winter track riders, we won in Amsterdam, Berlin and Stuttgart.
“I also rode the Olympia Tour of Holland, which was a great experience.”
And you went to the Dutch Lowik Meubelen team in 2007 — why Holland?
“I wanted to try something new; get a little bit of air — live alone as a cyclist in a foreign country.
“It was a mixed year, I met my wife but also had a bad crash in which I broke my shoulder and was off the bike for five weeks.”
In 2009 you were back with a Danish team — Designa Kokken.
“I had a pretty good season but the team didn’t include me in the programme so much; I didn’t re-sign with them, it was a bit of a wasted year.
“For 2010 I organised my own sponsors and was in the top six of the Danish road rankings for the year.”
And for 2011 it’s Christina Watches?
“It was after the Gent Six when Michael Rasmussen approached me; Bjarne Riis had told him that there was no place for him at Saxo Bank.
“Michael’s ‘plan B’ was always that he should start his own team, we had a meeting, agreed terms and I signed for him.”
How did the team come about?
“Christina Hembo contacted Michael last summer and said that she’d like to help; they’ve been planning since then but there was the possibility of Michael going to Saxo Bank; when that didn’t come off the Christina Watches team become a reality — no Saxo Bank wasn’t good for Michael but it was good for us!”
Has the team ownership/name issue been resolved?
“There are no problems, the team is listed as Team Bianchi — M1 but it’s owned by Christina Watches.
“It’s a question of formalities, there’s no stress — but having said that, it wouldn’t be the first time that people have tried to stop Michael from riding. (As of Feb 16th the UCI list of Continental Teams still shows ‘Team Bianchi — M1’) “
How does the programme look?
“We’ve been getting good invites; it’s an interesting prospect for organisers to have the team in their race.
“Our first race will be in Croatia, after our training camp and we have invites to Italian races too.
“It’s important that the core group of riders who will support Michael ride together to get to know each other — he’s highly motivated and I think he will win a lot of races this year.
“I’m also very motivated by being on the team and I think that it’s a big factor in my good performance in the Copenhagen Six.”
How has the UCI been with the new team?
“I don’t think the UCI has caused any problems for Michael or Christina but there are others…”
How does the team view your riding Six Days?
“They respect my aspirations on the track and they realise that my performances in the Sixes are good advertising.”
This year has been the breakthrough for you on the boards.
“It’s pretty obvious that my pairing up with Jens Erik Madsen has been a good move and I’m very proud of the way that we’ve both developed this season.”
Your favourite Six Day?
“My home Six here in Copenhagen, and Gent — there’s such intensity there that it gives me goosebumps.
“I also love the relationship that Iljo Keisse has with the fans — they just love the show.”
How do you deal with a 12 month season?
“Time with my family is very important to me but really I just listen to my head and body; if I need a week or two of rest then I take it — but it’s not something that I plan.”
I give you a choice, top roadman or top Six Day man?
“It’s not one I can make!
“I have a passion for both, look at Michael Mørkøv and Alex Rasmussen — they’ve proved that it’s possible to be good at both…
“That’s the dream.”