‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the first entry in our Berlin Six Day 2018 scrapbook- handsome devil Denmark’s Marc Hester warms up on his rollers as the German sprinters’ mechanic waits for the next gear change job. Marc rode with Jesper Mørkøv ‘til kidney stones forced the younger Mørkøv bruv out.
Our boy Nico plays shy but Achim gives us a smile.
Nico is the son of sprint legend, Lutz Hesslich who won Sprint Gold in two Olympics, 1980 and 1988 (missing out on competing in the 1984 Games due to the Soviet-led boycott) and who has run a bike shop in Cottbus for many years.
Achim Burkhart is European Derny champion, he rode a strong race in Bremen, finishing second with experienced Dutchman Yoeri Havik.
He’s still getting some discomfort with his shoulder from when he came down in a crash in Bremen.
Equipment goes ever-more Star Wars – these are the ‘bars and stem on Darryl Perkins BT.
Leif Lampater has been around the Six Day for a long time; being paired with Erik Zabel in the Sixes early in his career did him no harm.
He’s now one of the most experienced riders on the boards and despite taking winter seasons out to work with the national squad, Berlin is his 86th start.
He has nine wins but we reckon seven were with Zabel so those top podium steps have been sparse these last few years.
That said, he’s still an impressive sight whilst in full flight on a good day.
Andreas Müller is another stalwart of the Six Day scene and has won in Berlin before.
Andreas rides for Austria but is actually German by birth – he’s sneaking up towards his 100th Six Day ride; Copenhagen will be his 98th race to nowhere.
Wojciech Pszczolarski and Daniel Staniszewski from Poland rode very strongly in Berlin; Wojciech was European Points Race Champion in 2015 and Worlds bronze medallist in the same discipline, last year.
Daniel meanwhile, is very much on the ‘up’ and has been hurting a lot of legs in this Six.
The pair ride together again in Copenhagen.
All the way from Hong Kong, Messrs. Leung Chun Lok and Cheun King Lok for this event; they won the World Cup madison in Minsk, beating Dutch Six Day regulars Roy Pieters and Wim Stroetinga into second place.
But a World Cup on 100″ + gears is not a Six on restricted gears and the lower ratio took a bit of getting used to for the ever-smiling pair.
The Australian Federation may think Shane Perkins is ‘past it’ but not the Russians who warmly welcomed his request for citizenship.
Since he ‘turned Ruski’ he’s been first in the team sprint; third in the individual Sprint and first in the keirin at the Russian Track Cycling Championships as well as second in the keirin at the European Championships.
He wasn’t ‘on fire’ in the sprint tournament here but will be training hard for the Worlds.
‘Danish Dynamite’ the announcer at Bremen called them – Marc Hester & Jesper Mørkøv – but Jesper had to leave the Berlin race because of kidney stones.
The worst pain he’s experienced in his life, he told us – but he’s back for his home race in Copenhagen where he rides with Spaniard Sebastian Mora.
Wim Stroetinga has been around the boards for a long time, he was World Junior Scratch Champion in 2002, had a spell on the World Tour with Milram; has won multiple Dutch championships on the track, stages in races like the Olympia Tour and ZLM Tour as well as the UCI 1.1 Putte Kapellen.
He’s smoothed his style out, he used to be ‘all over the bike’ but now is much smoother – but still damn quick.
Big Rodge Kluge, seen here looking rather pleased with himself after blasting the 500 metre TT. Kluge is a man of many talents; a multiple national, European and Worlds medallist, he also has an Olympic silver in the points race – and a Giro stage win to his credit.
And apart from anything else, he looks the part, immaculate, big, strong, stylish, every inch a ‘vedette.’
The HK boys have the niceties of Derny racing explained to them – ‘no boys, you see, the fastest guy doesn’t always win…
Sprinting’s always a big deal in Berlin and there was a ladies’ series with flying lap, match sprinting and keirin.
Local heroine and Keirin World Champion, Kristina Vogel centre in the rainbow hoops, was very much the star.
Theo Reinhardt won in Bremen with De Ketele – riding with Kenny is a big ‘leg up,’ the Oudenaarde man is just so strong – but was toiling in this final ‘Bear Town’ chase.
To make the podium Reinhardt and Rodge had to take a lap out of the Swiss riders.
They made very heavy weather of it, Reinhardt was on his knees and Kluge ended up carrying him so much that he was running out of gas.
Once the lap was taken there were no more heroics from the Home Boys.
Tipped for the top, along with Pole, Staniszewski is Swiss rider Nico Selaanati.
He was paired with experienced Tristan Marguet and turning heads with his turn of speed – in Copenhagen he rides with our boy, Achim.
Stroetinga paired with Yoeri Havik to win in Berlin, both fast finishers but more than capable in the chases; this was their second consecutive win in Berlin.
Undoubted kings of the boards currently, Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw have the luxury of a sponsor happy to see them tread the boards – World Tour team management is twitchy about their boys riding the Sixes, too many inexperienced riders make it a dangerous game – and live in a world where the Six Day specialist is a rare bird.
There are only two races pre-Xmas, London and Gent, then four in quick succession after the new year, Rotterdam, Bremen, Berlin and Copenhagen. Gone are the days of riding 14/15/16 Six Day races on the bounce right through the winter.
But ‘you can only beat those who are on the start line’ as the saying goes and they’re an impressive pair when on a charge.
The finale was a good one with the Dutch boys shadowing the Belgians all the way to ensure no lap gains then getting round them in every points sprint.
The Orangemen deserved their win but can’t continue the battle up on the Baltic in Copenhagen where De Ketele rides with Michael Mørkøv (yes, you’re right, the rest are racing for second), De Pauw rides with Yoeri Havik (probable second in the town with the Mermaid) whilst Stroetinga is training with his national team for the Worlds.
Next stop, Copenhagen.
And can anyone usurp King Michael?
Probably not …
How many kilometres is it to Rostock, Boss?