If you’re a Six Day fan then you’ll have your favourite stylist – maybe it’s the spectacular but so smooth Iljo Keisse or perhaps the robotic ‘Big Bob’ Bartko or the physical style of Wim Stroetinga?
But there’s a man missing from the boards, this season who for me was the most stylish rider of his generation – tall, slim Dutchman, Peter Schep.
A former Worlds Points Champion and multiple European and national champion as well as a Worlds medallist in three different disciplines – his Koga Miyata is now hanging in the garage.
He had the early promise to be a good road rider but was seduced by the boards and went on to become one of the World’s best track riders for a decade.
We caught up with Peter as battle raged in the Rotterdam Six Day, a race in which he was victorious twice.
Can we run through your palmarès with you first, Peter?
- World Points Champion 2006
- European Madison champion 2007
- European Derny Champion 2011
- National Scratch Champion 2003 & 2010
- National Points Champion 2004
- National Madison Champion 2008 & 2010
- Winner Six Days of: Amsterdam ’06; Rotterdam ’09 & ’12: Ghent ’10; Bremen ’12; Zürich ’12 and Berlin ’13 off 56 starts.
Have we missed any?
“No, that’s correct.”
In 1995 you were a strong junior road rider – why go to the track?
“I had the opportunity to go to the Olympics in ’96 in the team pursuit on the track – that was really great and the start for me.”
And in 1999 you were third in the Chrono Champenois – did you ever think of going to the road as a ‘chronoman’?
“My time trials were good, but not strong enough for international races.”
You rode three Olympics, which do you look back on with most satisfaction?
“I actually did four Olympics.
“The best memories I have are from Sydney but the most satisfaction I gained was from Athens.
“After a good points race – where I ended up sixth – I got some invitations and started my Six Day career as a result; and also began to focus on points races.
“Within one-and-a-half years I had won a World Cup in Moscow and a year later the Worlds in Bordeaux.
“So I made a good choice.”
Can you remember your first race – when was that?
“When I was 14 – I’m 36 now – but I’ve forgotten the place – I knew I really liked cycling from that moment on.”
And what was your last?
“A Derny ‘goodbye’ race this winter in Amsterdam.”
You were still winning on the road and track until very recently – why quit now?
“Because of an injury to my left leg – If I’d wanted to go on I had to go for surgery.
“Over the last five years I suffered a few crashes with some broken collarbones; so decided I had spent enough hours in hospital…”
You had several Worlds silvers; Team Pursuit ’05, Madison ’07 and Points ’10 – any ‘what ifs’ in there?
“In the team pursuit we were not the strongest; nor in the 2010 points – but we were really close in the madison in 2007.
“We (Danny Stam and me) were in the lead until the last sprint and we went really strong that day.
“We got finally beaten by one point – I wasn’t sleeping well for a few days because of that one.”
You made winning the Worlds Points Championship look easy in 2006 – you had amazing form for that race.
“That was the race of my life and I am still proud.
“But I won six medals in total in the Worlds in different events and can be happy to look back on these results with pride.”
Which was your first Six Day?
“Amsterdam 2004 – it was really hard but I liked it from the first moment!”
Which is your favourite Six, and why?
“Rotterdam – theres a big home crowd in the Ahoy Stadium; that always gave you some extra power to go on.
“And I won there in 2009 together with my earlier points race hero Juan Llaneras (that was his last race).”
And the toughest and why?
“Munich – before it disappeared from the calendar – had the name as the ‘Worlds’ of the Six Days.
“The first time I was there I suffered for six days!
“Everybody wanted to be there and on their highest level.”
Who was your best partner and why?
“When I raced with Jimmy Madsen – neither of us had ridden with a regular team mate for that whole Six Day season.
“I was coming up at that time and it was kind of a reward that I was paired with Jimmy – he was one of the best riders on the circuit.”
And the rider you respected the most and why?
“I always wanted to ride like the Spanish rider Juan Llaneras.
“He was a great rider and if I wanted to win it had to be in the same way as he did – by lapping the field.
“Also as a person he is great; no arguments – only fights on the bike.”
How much have the Six Days changed in the time you’ve ridden them?
“The programme in the Six Days has changed – for the public nowadays it all has to be fast with results coming quickly.
“Nowadays they don’t want to see 75km madisons; that’s too long for today’s public.
“But it’s still Six Days of racing so you need a good condition for recovery.”
What’s your new career?
“I am coach now; a combination of road and track so that gives me a very nice job.”
And are you going to the see the racing at the Rotterdam Six Day?
“Yes, I was at the first day and I’ll see the final one.”