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Ed on the Boards: Bremen ‘6 Days’ – Three Nights In!

Bremen ‘6 Days’: Ed Hood has moved on from the final night in Rotterdam to work the full 6 days in the German City of Bremen. Loud music, bright lights and fast racing on the new boards of Bremen, Ed was there for all the razzamatazz and ‘Party Time’, but there are riders to look after and that camper to sleep in. The fun of the track centre.

Bremen ‘6 Days’ Party Time

Day One:
Patti Smith is telling me at pain threshold levels; ‘because the night belongs to lovers.’ No girl! It belongs to that bed in the camper van which I’m using my last dregs of energy to reach. The racing may be over for the night but the party is 100% ON, Bremen isn’t called the ‘Party Six’ for nothing. The bass thumps through the camper walls, but I’m so tired I know I’ll sleep through it.

It wasn’t a bad first night, we may not have set the heather on fire in the chases but our 22 year-old German, Moritz Augenstein in his sixth six day, partnered with Dane Oliver Wulff Frederiksen, took the two lap time trial with a new track record.

Whilst our sprinter, big Czech Tomas Babek, who’s reigning European Games Kilometre Champion took the keirin and was best sprinter overall for the evening.

As well as Moritz we have our regular German client of five years, 27 year-old Hans Pirius riding his 26th six day race and driving us crazy with his choice of music, checkout ‘Car Radio’ by 21 Pilots. He’s seen in the picture speaking to Israel Start-Up World Tour pro, Nils Politt. Hans rides with Aussie Joshua Harrison who’s just back from the Tassie Carnival circuit.

Finally there’s 26 year-old Englishman Stephen Bradbury (seen here giving the sling) in his third six day, albeit he’s an experienced madison rider having competed in 100K and three day events. Stephen is partnered by ‘big unit’ Belgian, Bryan Boussaer who’s riding his third six day.

It’s a new track surface here and much better than the old one which wasn’t the fastest or safest and last year was looking pretty battle scarred.

It’s a varied field, there are novices but some top guys too, like Belgian former World Madison Champion, Kenny De Ketele, seen here slinging partner, Politt.

Kenny’s countryman and ex-regular partner, seven times a six day winner, Moreno De Pauw rides with Germany’s Leon Rohde.

Rotterdam six winner, Dutchman Wim Stroetinga, seen here taking the sling from Swiss partner, Nico Selenati is an old hand 54 six days and five wins under his belt

German World Champion, Theo Reinhardt rides with French former World Madison champion and FDJ World Tour rider, Morgan Kneisky [FDJ].

And Paris-Roubaix runner up, Nils Politt is looking colourful in that new Israel Start-Up kit.

Man with the most experience is Dane and former Copenhagen Six day winner, Marc Hester with over 100 six day starts to his name.

And it was Hester and partner Austria’s former European Madison Champion, Andreas Graf who took the first chase after a rather protracted, smokey opening ceremony which seemed to go on for ever, then a devil, which we didn’t win. By the end of that first chase there were teams five laps down – some guys are in for a difficult week. Swiss, Tristan Marguet won the first Derny.
Scotsman Jonathan Mitchell won his sprint heat, no pictures I’m afraid, I was on holding up duties. To celebrate his win the PA pumped out an Ibiza/Bremen/disco mix version of ‘Scotland the Brave’ – interesting. . .

As I waited to hold up Tomas in one of his rides, an old guy leaned over the barrier and hollered at the girls who present the bouquets to get their picture. ‘The newspapers like pictures of the young girls, you know?’ He told me with a conspiratorial wink. I smiled and eased quietly away along the barrier. As I said earlier, we won the two lap TT and Tomas won the keirin so it wasn’t a bad start.

Hester/Graf top the first night standings – and then it was time to do the washing. . .

Day Two
Last night it was Patti Smith, tonight it was ‘Tainted Love’ by a covers band at two million decibels.

I guess if you had a beer in your hand and your sweetheart on your arm it would have been a good gig but not if your feet are on fire and all you can think about is BED.

An apology first, yesterday I said that we hadn’t set the heather on fire in the chases but actually, our man Moritz and partner Oliver finished the evening in third spot overall, I didn’t check the standings after the second chase.

The track has been re-surfaced for this year, perhaps Robert Forstemann’s horror crash last year was the catalyst? There were tales that the resurfacing shortened the track by as much as five/six metres but the man who laid the new surface, track builder Walter von Lutcken told me that it’s actually the same 166 metres on the datum line despite their narrowing the track at one end and widening it at the other end during the works. The reasons for these changes rather flew over my head though.

The unanimous verdict is that the new surface is good but there’s still a dangerous corner where the ViP stand above the pits (where we are) is very close to the track – you take care going round there. It was a ‘rolling’ presentation tonight which is a better way of introducing the riders rather than having them clamber up on to a stage – and it loosens the legs for the elimination which the presentation laps rolled into – with elimination every two laps.

Thereafter the first chase went to Reinhardt & Kneisky who should finish on the podium, they’re a very strong, experienced pair; Kneisky is a three times World Madison Champion, as well as a Worlds Scratch win whilst Reinhardt is reigning World Madison Champion, with ‘Big Rodge’ Kluge.

We had a visitor tonight, Germany’s ‘Big Bob’ Bartko one of the most successful six day riders of his generation, turning pro after the 2000 Sydney Olympics on the back of gold medals in the individual and team pursuit. Until he retired in 2014 he was one of the most successful performers on the boards, winning 20 six days – Amsterdam (3), Berlin (3), here in Bremen (4), Copenhagen, Gent (3), Munich (2), Stuttgart (2), Rotterdam and Zurich. Silk smooth, those massive thighs pumping the cranks with no upper body movement he was a joy to watch, rarely finishing off the podium.

Home boy sprinter Robert Forstemann is recovered from that horror crash here of last year and back on the boards – but maybe not just quite as quick as he was?

But our man, Czech Tomas Babek is quicker than ever and came within a sniff of the lap record.

And sticking with the sprinters, Scotland’s Jonathan Mitchell took a nice win in the keirin.

Hans looked good in the Derny but finished last – however, it’s virtually all down to the driver and what’s going on inside his head. . .

Winners of the second chase were Max Beyer and Tristan Marguet; Tristan is one of the quickest on the track and Max has improved greatly in the last year, he’s lost weight and is a different rider.

Graf and Hester continue to lead overall; split session tomorrow, afternoon and evening – ouch!

Day Three:
Saturday afternoon sessions – they’re hard work. You have to be up early to set up, the programme is short then you have to tidy up and set up all over again for the evening session.

First up is the ‘race group picture.’

With this afternoon belonging to the kids, Belgian soigneur, Tino entered into the spirit of things. . .

But the long hours are beginning to tell, with Jensie the mechanic getting an impromptu neck massage from veteran soigneur, Etienne Illegems. We had a rolling presentation and straight into an elimination, the winner? I didn’t take note – so many things to attend to.

The 45 minute chase had a few really brisk patches and wasn’t the best for us with Kenny and Nils coming out on top, despite the WorldTour guy’s ‘permapain’ face. For teams like ours it’s not a case of losing laps, slipping off the string – more just not being able to take them.

There were two chases in the evening with Hester and partner Graf (pictured) riding strongly and would continue to lead at the end of the night.

Reigning World Madison Champion Theo Reinhardt is off the boards, we’re not sure if he’s coming back or is just neutralised – Kneisky now rides with European u23 Scratch Champion, Moritz Malcharek. You’re allowed 48 hours neutralised then you’re out.

Wim Stroetinga’s Swiss partner, Nico Selenati who has Swiss track champs and Euro u23 medals to his name, is riding well. He’s also a tad ‘gallus’ [bold] as we say in Scotland, going through gaps which many wouldn’t.

The show was ‘ATC’ – the sprinters’ cabin was right behind this and they got the best view.

Former World Junior Points Race Champion back in 2004 and regular on the Bremen boards, Marcel Barth who’s now a police officer ‘came back’ to lead the La Ola sprint – a light hearted affair where the riders lark around in the opening laps with our boy Moritz taking the honours at the line.

That win added to the 500 TT which he and Oliver (pictured) won for the third straight night – lifting the track record in the process with a 27.2 ride.

There was a women’s omnium running Friday and Saturday with English lass Emily Nelson taking the honours. It was hard to catch up with her due to the fact the girls ‘holding’ area was away at another part of the stadium. Sprinters, Derny, sprinters and a ‘Kleine Jagd’ [little chase] – ‘little indeed’ with few laps lost and then it was time for the long march to the camper. Racing finished at 02:00 am and we kick off tomorrow, Sunday at 12:25 pm. Wish us luck.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,800 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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