Thursday, January 20, 2022
HomeRaceSix DaysA Preview of the 101st Berlin Six Day 2012

A Preview of the 101st Berlin Six Day 2012


The Berlin Six Day reached a golden milestone last January with its 100th edition, and the annual festivities will return to the German Capital for the 101st Berlin Six Day 2012 on Thursday.

Unfortunately Six Day racing continues to be in decline and it’s not something that can solely be laid at the door of the global economy rather just a sad fact of life that times change.

Events have in recent years left established Six Day cities such as Dortmund, Munich and Stuttgart, lack of sponsors and public interest being the main factors.

So in 2012 it is left to Bremen and Berlin to fly the flag for Germany.

Berlin Six Day 2012
A retired and relaxed looking Bruno Risi popped by. We miss him.

As well as events, riders come and go and many who created the spectacle and excitement over the last 10-15 years; Bruno Risi, Kurt Betschart, Silvio Martinello, Marco Villa, Matt Gilmore, Scott McGrory, Jimmi Madsen and Robert Slippens — have all retired.

Others like Michael Mørkøv and Alex Rasmussen seem to have left track racing behind to the draw of the road and commitment to trade team contracts.

One of the best riders left in the Six Day bunch is Robert Bartko and he won’t be on the start line following a dispute with the Berlin organisation over the terms (a major reduction) of his contract. That, and the fairly thin field, is testament to the fact that even this great event is under pressure.

Berlin Six Day 2012
Bib Bob Bartko. Photo©Ed Hood

But with or without Bartko the show goes on and 32 riders will race to nowhere around the 250 metre long boards inside the Landsberger Allee Velodrome.

The quality and composition of the field is, like it has been at all this winter’s Sixes, a mixed bag, and there are very few riders who now race at all the Sixes in the season.

In the past there was what they called ‘the blue train’ but that seems – like Munich and Dortmund – to be a thing of the past. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as the riders who are present will be motivated to put on a show and compete to the best of their varying abilities.

Here is a look at the starting field…

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Without the aforementioned Robert Bartko in the field, his partner in victory last year Roger Kluge starts his first Six Day of the winter with Leif Lampater as his ‘new’ team mate.

Berlin Six Day 2012
Kluge, big and strong, at Gent a couple of years ago. Photo©Ed Hood

The talent of Kluge is undoubted and his ultimate goal for 2012 will be a medal in the London Olympic Omnium.

That new and generally unpopular championship event is very difficult for most Six Day riders to be competitive in; Kluge does have the speed, strength and endurance to make a real go of it although it is still something of a lottery.

Whatever the outcome once the Olympics are over you’d suspect that Kluge will concentrate more on the road and like Mørkøv and Rasmussen will be another talent lost for most of the winter circuit.

In Berlin though as the home team, and with the main sponsors name on their jersey, he and Lampater will be expected to bring home the bacon.

Berlin Six Day 2012
Leif Lampater. Photo©Ed Hood

The quiet but talented Lampater won here in 2007 with Guido Fulst and will be motivated having the speedy Kluge at his side. He doesn’t have the strength of Bartko though and the mantle of favourites will pass over to another team this year.

That team are World Madison Champions Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard who, like Kluge, will be entering their one and only Six this winter – in fact it is only the second of Meyers career.

Berlin Six Day 2012
Cameron Meyer.

Last year in his first ever Six Meyer and his partner Leigh Howard pushed the strong Bartko-Kluge team all the way to the finish taking 2nd place. This time around despite the lack of experience they look like the class riders of the field.

Their talent and road strength, honed back home at the Tour Down Under, should be enough to see them competitive. To prove the point they recently cruised to victory on the track in the Australian Madison Championship.

The lack of top riders in the field sees them stand out like a beacon and they’ll be keen to put on a strong, and winning, performance in their World Champions jerseys.

Ultimately they’ll be looking to retain the jerseys for the third consecutive year on home soil in Melbourne during early April.

Probably the only other team with a realistic shot at the victory are European Madison Champions Iljo Keisse and Kenny de Ketele.