Grenoble Six: The Story So Far

The 2006/7 six-day season kicked-off in late September at Maastricht in Holland. From there the grand tour of the great tracks of Europe begins and continues into the Spring. PEZ takes a look at the Six Day season so far and gets the story of the Grenoble Six started: PEZ-Man Ed Hood is once again in the trenches.

In Maastricht, the Swiss pairing of Bruno Risi & Franco (Marvellous) Marvulli ran-out winners ahead of Iljo Keisse (Belgium) & Marco Villa (Italy) with the Dutch duo of Danny Stam & Peter Schep in third spot.

The new duo of Risi/Marvulli already has a win to their credit in 2006.

None of these teams are regular pairings on the six day circuit. Despite the fact that Risi & Marvulli have won Worlds gold and Olympic silver in the madison, Bruno’s regular winter partner for the last decade has been his countryman and brother-in-law, Kurt Betschart. However, last season, with Bruno out due to injuries sustained in a crash, Kurt looked very ordinary with a succession of different partners and this summer called-time on his career.

Iljo Keisse has been good so far, probably because of his racing stripes and perfect mullet.

Keisse’s usual, partner, with whom he won three sixes last season, ‘Belgo-Aussie’, Matt Gilmore is out with a broken hip sustained in a crash on the road. The same story applies to Danny Stam’s partner, Robert Slippens, out with multiple broken ribs Slippens and Stam are a formidable duo with four wins last season.

Schep is a six regular, but not an ‘ace’; a very classy win in the worlds points race championship in March may just have announced the arrival of a new Peter Schep however.

Risi & Marvulli took their good form from Holland up to Denmark in mid-October and on the boards of the Ballerup track (where the Copenhagen six is held) they took the European madison championship. In the old days this would have entitled them to a European champion’s jersey for the winter season, but not any more. It was back to Holland again right after the European champs, and the Amsterdam six.

The Amsterdam Six went to native sons Stam and Schep.

Home-boys, Stam and Schep took this from classy Spaniards, Juan Llaneras & Isaac Galvez with a saddle sore-plagued Risi not at his best, but still taking third with Marvulli. This was Stam’s tenth six-day win and Scheps first. The race was marred by a bad crash on the last night involving pursuit star, Robert Barko (Germany) and six-day stalwart, Marco Villa.

Vlla and parner Keisse were very much in the mix for the win when the rapid little Italian went for a lap. He went over the string at the top of the banking and was ‘full-gas’ when the big German swung-up out of the line. The pair collided and a crash was inevitable when their handlebars locked; Bartko tumbled down the banking but Villa was catapulted over the grab rail at the top of the banking, landing among the fans. A trip tp hospital revealed that apart from a dose of concussion and a huge lump on his head he was unharmed; but the race was finished for him.

It doesn’t take much for a nasty spill at these speeds, such close quarters, and a lot of movement around the track.

After Amsterdam, the circus splits with most of the ‘heads’ goimg for Dortmund in The Fatherland whilst the lesser lights and a smattering of stars head south to Grenoble in southern France. This year though, the organisers in the leafy, mountain-ringed city have pulled-off a coup – newly-crowned world road race champion, Paolo Bettini heads the programme. Bettini has a big bucks contract to ride the Munich six in November and needs a warm-up race to find his track legs and get used to his partner, Marco Villa.

Grenoble is much less ferocious than Dortmund so ‘I’ll Grillo” will be packing them in at the Palais des Sports. Because Bettini asked for a start, his xontract fee will be much less than his real value – the organisers will be feeling pretty pleased with themselves. Apart from Villa & Bettini, the race has Franco Marvulli and countryman, Alexander Aeschbach as favourites. The duo have won here before and in the absence of last year’s winners Keisse & Gilmore it’s hard to see who will beat them.

PEZ is ’embedded’ at Grenoble and in between emptying them pee-pails we’ll be bringing yoiu the results, gossip and interviews.

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