Daniel Holloway does the countdown at the Copenhagen Six Day 2018 in his Californian-Swedish, ten down to six; the crowd takes over from five down to one, the cannon report just about bursts everyone’s ear drums, then there’s the smoke.
For a split second nothing happens, everyone is too stunned by the noise and reek of gunpowder.
But there’s the bongos – and Paul Delicato’s velvet voice; ‘Cara Mia why, must we say goodbye…‘
It can only be the Copenhagen Six Day; this was the first Six I worked, back in 2005 when Jakob Piil and Jimmi Madsen won.
Both are long since retired but Jimmi now organises the race along with ever-smiling Michael Sandstød.
It’s good cop/bad cop deal with Jimmi very much the one who would beat a confession out of your granny.
The first chase is 75 minutes, in a world where 45 minutes is now a long chase that’s a long, long chase.
Home fave and six times winner, Michael Mørkøv pairs with Oudenaarde’s finest and current king of the pine boards, Kenny De Ketele, they wear the legendary ‘Danish flag’ number seven tricot.
Competing for second place we have:
Team one, quality Dutchman Yoeri Havik who’s just off winning in Berlin with Wim Stroetinga (who doesn’t ride, he’s now into preparation for the World Championships) paired with De Ketele’s usual henchman, skinny but rapid Belgian Moreno De Pauw.
Then there’s the number nine jersey which used to be on the backs of the second string Danish pair – home boy and previous Copenhagen winner Marc Hester pairs with stalwart German Leif Lampater.
Team 14 on paper is strong too; but Michael Mørkøv’s younger brother, Jesper – who won here in 2016 with Alex Rasmussen – had major problems with kidney stones in Berlin, so despite being paired with Spanish strongman Sebastian Mora it’s unlikely they can challenge.
We think that’s how it’ll finish; “seven, one, nine” or perhaps “seven, nine, one”?
Any other team on the podium would be a surprise.
In the cabin we have European Derny Champion, Achim Burkhart – who Matt Rendell of Eurosport feels is worth an interview – fellow German and former national Madison Champion, Nico Hesslich plus multiple German track championship medallist and solid road man, Hans Pirius.
Achim rides with rising Swiss fast man, Nico Selanati; Nico with former Danish Elite Road Race Champion and BMC man, Sebastian Lander whilst Hans rides with ‘Born in the USA’ Daniel Holloway.
Unfortunately, Hans had a bad crash whilst racing in Australia in January and the stress of the first chase put his already battle scarred knee under so much pressure that he was forced out of the race.
Aforementioned co-organiser Jimmi Madsen was round like a Tasmanian Devil and I can confirm that he has no problems in expressing exactly what he’s thinking – ouch!
That encounter rather put a damper on things, not helped by interval singer, who, even by Copenhagen standards, was tragic.
I’ll never moan about the Gent Six Day’s ‘pub singer’ Garry Hagger again.
Englishman Stephen Bradbury won the ‘longest lap’ – I’ll explain it tomorrow, too tired right now.
Johny Wakelin’s ‘In Zaire’ is the tune for the Dernys – and Achim won, which rather raised the mood.
There was a ladies’ Derny then Michael and Kenny won the flying lap – and I slept like a log.
* * *
The programme says the boys have to be on the track for 19:23 – very precise.
We’re back to a rolling presentation tonight after yesterday’s track centre interviews; most riders like it, it’s a decent warm up.
Sprints then the Devil and Kenny out-sprints Moreno – really?
‘Cara Mia’ – I love it and the Madison fires up, one hour, Jesper is hurting, no wonder but Hans gets through it; partner Daniel ‘Hollywood’ Holloway isn’t on his best game either despite a good winter which has seen him win a World Cup omnium.
The girls have plenty of races here – including Derny and Madison albeit the bunch is a bit small for the latter.
Nico wins the ‘longest lap’ then Achim wins the Derny, this is better boys!
‘The longest lap?’ I hear you say.
The boys line up on the fence in the back straight then have to ride slowly towards the finish line where they must pop a standstill – if they cross the line or put a foot down then they’re out – until the gun fires, it’s then a ‘mad breenge’ for one lap and whoever is first across the line wins.
It’s actually OK to watch and a bit of fun.
The flying lap and the Michael Mørkøv/Kenny De Ketele pairing have stuck with what used to be Michael and Alex Rasmussen’s signature tune, AC/DC and ‘Thunderstruck’.
They duly win, with Kenny launching Michael – but it’s just not the same as when Michael used to launch Alex, who flew round that bowl like a grizzly on nitro.
Alex came to visit – we miss him…
Top tunes in the chase?
No trip to the canteen post-race tonight, too many weird dreams last night.
* * *
Until my body attunes to the crazy rhythm of a Six Day I feel like a zombie in the mornings as I stumble from the camper in to the cabin.
The shower soon fixes me though – there’s no hot water to be had and the icy jet has me the freshest man in Ballerup in about 10 seconds.
It’s that Six Day horror today being Saturday – a split session; lunchtime and evening sessions.
Young Belgians Otto Vergaerde and Jules Hesters – in his first pro Six – are looking the part and not over-awed by the heavy artillery.
And the Poles are no slouches either; Wojciech Pszczolarski and Daniel Staniszewski here in action.
The afternoon is spent editing pictures and writing lists – if you’re a saddo like me, that is.
The evening rolling presentation; but without Nico – that chest infection has just proved too much…
Felix English has to pull out too, with a fever, so Seb Lander now goes with Mark Downey.
Sprints, Devil, ‘Cara Mia’ – and Hester wins the Madison, despite an arched-back-Reg-Harris-lunge from Michael.
Ladies now, and 18-year old Maggie Coles-Lyster, the 2017 junior world champion in the points race from Maple Ridge, B.C. comes down hard in the next race. She blacked out for a bit and is stretchered off – no pictures from me, doesn’t seem right.
Maggie posted a message on Instagram on Sunday evening to say she’s okay, ‘just’ suffering concussion, a fractured cheekbone/eye socket, possible broken ribs and some air bubbles above her lungs. They make them tough in Canada.
Longest lap then the girls’ Madison with Patrick Hernandez; ‘Born to be Alive’. Pity the bunch is so small.
Michael wins the Derny, Hester the flying lap and it’s time for the ‘Balustrade’ sprint where the riders track the fence lead by Daniel who’s a wizard at hands off riding, zooming up and down the bankings high clapping, doing the ‘Jet Plane’ and the ‘Superman’ while Dario G’s ‘Sunchyme‘ pumps from the PA – it’s special.
Winners of the last chase?
Can’t remember, sorry.
That’s us half way, ciao, ciao.