Ed on the Boards: Three Nights in Copenhagen
Copenhagen ‘6 Days’: Ed Hood couldn’t miss the last ‘6 Day’ of the 2019/20 season in Copenhagen. A full six days was not possible in the Danish capital, but three is better than none and the winners were dominant. The City of the little mermaid is one of Ed’s favourites, as he always says “wonderful, wonderful…”
From the very first chase there was little doubt about who was in charge of the Copenhagen Three Day 2020; Dutchmen Jan Van Schip and Yoeri Havik were the strongest men on the track.
In the recent Milton, Canada UCi World Cup Van Schip won the omnium then teamed up with Havik to win the madison – so we knew they were on form. But a ‘six’ [or three] is as much a show as a sporting event – did they really need to win by five laps?
One lap on the last night would have provided more excitement but the pair obviously have rainbows over Berlin in the forthcoming Worlds in mind and pushed themselves hard in every chase. The Sunweb duo of Dane Casper Pedersen and big finishing Dutchman – yes, another one – Cees Bol were second at five laps albeit with a better points total, surprisingly beating home legend Michael Mørkøv who was paired with rising star, Oliver Wulff.
But our spies tell us though that the youngster was tired after a six day season paired with compatriot and one of a very few to have completed 100 six days, former Copenhagen Six winner, Marc Hester. Sadly, Marc was absent from the starting line-up this year.
There’s the bongos . . . Paul Delicato’s unmistakeable ‘Cara Mia’ marks the start of the first chase in the 2020 Copenhagen Six D – sorry, make that THREE Days. But as Franco Marvulli once said; “three days is much better than NO days.” Despite the fact that it’s just a three day, the field isn’t the worst:
Big Dutch World Points Champion, Jan Van Schip pairs with his Milton, Canada World Cup madison-winning partner, experienced compatriot, Yoeri Havik.
Our rider, Polish former European Champion, Wojciech Pszczolarski pairs with Berlin Six Day winner, the hugely experienced Dutchman, Wim Stroetinga.
And, of course, there’s ‘par no. 7’ – home boy and multiple winner and podium finisher in the six day here, Michael Mørkøv – paired with rising star in the Danish heavens, Oliver Wulff Frederiksen.
An interesting pairing is that of Dane Casper Pedersen and Sunweb WorldTour Dutch team mate and 2019 Nokere Koerse winner, Cees Bol.
Apart from Wojciech we have Polish pairing Bartosz Rudyk and Damian Slawek.
And German pairing, our old chum Hans Pirius and Moritz Augenstein; Hans has won the u23 Gent six day and Moritz the u23 Bremen six day.
Then there’s our Czech guys, Denis Rugovac and Ludek Lichnovsky.
Last but by no means is our Englishman, Stephen Bradbury who’s becoming a regular on the six day circuit with rides in Bremen and Berlin. Pictured here in the wheel of splendidly named Belgian partner, Matthias van Beethoven who speaks absolutely perfect English.
The first chase went to Messrs. Van Schip and Havik, putting their mark on the race early; ‘we want to win this,’ the message to the unfortunates trying to hold their wheels.
Next up was the ladies devil, won by English lass, Emily Nelson.
The lads in pink won the one lap TT – I’ll pay more attention tomorrow – our boy Moritz is usually pretty rapid over one lap but chose to put Hans in, like I say, I’ll pay more attention to the results tomorrow. The music the play for the flying lap is cool – AC/DC, ‘Highway to Hell’ and Kiss, ‘I Was made for Loving You’ two of my faves.
Derny One and our Denis was the early leader – never a good thing – with team five taking the flowers. Derny Two went to Michael Mørkøv and the ladies points – which seemed to be about 1,000 laps – to Emily. The girls aren’t in to lap gains – but in fairness, at 250 metres, it’s a big old bowl to claw a lap out of. Dario G’s ‘Sunchyme’ marked the 10 lap ‘balustrade’ sprint – I’ll take pics tomorrow and then we were straight into the final 160 lap chase.
Unlike the six day here, there are no trackside cabins, as you can observe behind Yoeri Havik in this shot, it’s just ‘pens’ a la World Cups. That means there’s nowhere for the riders to have a pee before the chase save go down through the tunnel to the stadium loos.
The last chase won’t go down as the annals as an all-time great but the music was good; they always play ‘Sandstorm’ by Darude as the chase comes to head. That and Paul Delicato’s tune to open the chase were pretty much the hi-lites of a chase where not a lot of lap gains were made. Oh, yeah – them Dutch guys won this madison too. Must dash, washing to do.
Sleep came easier last night, one always sleeps better when one is exhausted. . . Sometimes the music choices here delight me; Penny McLean, ‘Lady Bump’– what a tune, suddenly I was back in the 70’s.
Cees Bol is a ‘big unit’ as my amigo Martyn Frank would say. I interviewed him two seasons ago when he was SEG Racing and thought it would be nice to catch up with him again but he and Pedersen had no soigneur or mechanic so time to talk to me was at a premium but I did extract that he’s no stranger to the boards having ridden the Dutch national scratch, points, and madison champs several times in the past. He came up through the Rabobank Continental and SEG u23 teams where he could have had no better places to learn his craft. After a successful u23 year in 2018 it was apparent he could and would go WorldTour – with SEG master minding his Sunweb ride.
He found the step from u23 to World Tour a ‘big one’ but thinks he can ‘safely say he coped’; stage wins in California and Norway plus the race with the mad finale, Nokere Koerse endorse those comments – and there was also a pro kermis which I missed. Four wins for a 24 year-old neo pro speaks for itself. He rode around 80 race days last year including a good chunk of the Tour de France before the team pulled him out but, ‘he likes to race a lot.’ He found the Tour tough but his form was great once he ‘rebounded.’ By now his partner, Casper was giving me the ‘evil eye,’ I said my thanks and bolted.
The first Derny went to Havik but back at our enclosure Wojciech was too busy making fun of Ludek’s white shoes with red laces; “Ed, you remember seeing these; Umbro football boots at the World Cup in Wembley?”
Emily won the next ladies race, I can’t remember what it was but my scribbles tell me she did.
Next up was the flying lap with Pedersen unlikely to ever get a better lead-out and sling than the one he got from Big Cees. Big Bob Bartko’s 12.449 track record became history as Pedersen stopped the clock on 12.445 – rapid for 250 metres.
They were happy boys. Derny Two went to Michael Mørkøv – Derny one? I’m not a Derny lover and need to pay more attention! Sorry.
Stephen might have nicked the balustrade sprint but snatched a look back and lost that little bit of momentum to lose narrowly at the line. In the Copenhagen Six Day the Monday night handicap chase is the one everyone wants to win. Our boy Hans paired with American ‘Crit King’ Daniel ‘Hollywood’ Holloway won it two years ago – that was a good night and a good six for us.
They’ve included the handicap race as the hi-lite of the Saturday night programme. The chase is over 75K, 300 laps with ‘The Bigs’ giving away up to five laps on the ‘limit men.’ With only one mechanic for 18 teams we had to lay our plans in case of punctures – wheel changes for Hans and Bartosz; bike changes for the rest, spanners and Allen keys neatly laid out. Fortunately our skills weren’t tested. They plucked another quality ‘rave from the grave’ ‘45’ early in the evening – Blue Suede, ‘Hooked on a Feeling,’ a terrific chase tune.
Kris handed up A LOT of drinks and I felt like a retriever constantly trotting round the track to recover the bottles. Kris is fanatical about them baby feeding bottles we use – the new babies’ bottles are made from a different plastic, don’t you know?
Coming into the last 10K we had a real chance of the win with Stephen and Matthias but local boys team 16, on the same lap attacked them and our boys just couldn’t get with them – no one was doing us any favours and once 16 made the peloton, the locals kept the presh on. An Englishman winning the big chase? The only thing that could be worse than that would be an Englishman AND a Belgian winning. . . Beer and a sandwich after the washing? Naw! Go back up to the track and chain the bikes up.
‘Rough’ doesn’t describe how I felt for the last day but a cold shower and one of Kris’s superb omelettes soon had me back to life.
Drama. Ludek’s ‘football boots’ were missing – at close to midnight when eight guys dump two jerseys each, vests, shorts, mitts shoes and helmets in their wake it’s difficult to keep track.
‘Sort it in the morning’ is the mantra – but I could find but seven pairs of shoes until Kris picked a bag off the bench, ‘is this them?’ Sweet relief – a coffee to celebrate.
“Smiling Jimmi” Madsen, one of the organising team came round early with plastic canisters of chicken pasta salad. He fixes me with a stare; “Not for you, Ed! For di riderz!” “Cheers Jimmi!”
Girls’ Derny and Emily doesn’t win! Maybe she wasn’t riding?
The ‘wee’ chase, still Van Schip and Havik hammer away at it but let the young Danes take the flowers. ‘Ritmo de la Noche’ is the tune of the chase.
But Damien and Bartosz aren’t digging it, they lose a lot of laps and it’s apparent they won’t handle the final – a shame.
Stephen wins the ‘longest lap’ – where one rider from each team rolls round from the back straight into the home straight but can’t cross the start line ‘til the gun goes. Riders fall off/put a foot down/cross the line until it’s only the hard core ‘standstill artists’ left then the gun fires and it’s a mad dash for one lap. It’s entertaining. Pedersen breaks the old flying lap record again but is 1/1000th shy of his previous night’s time. Jonny Wakelin’s, ‘In Zaire’ can mean only one thing – Dernys!
Denis wins! I trot over with his towel and bottle for the presentation, a race official collars me; ‘what is this guy’s name?’ I’m not sure we’re leaving our stamp on this race.
But Denis’s Derny exertions cause him to fashion a bed from a wheel bag and a blanket – ingenious those Czech boys. Michael Mørkøv wins Derny two, Emily wins the ladies’ points and it’s time for ‘Sunchyme’ and the ‘balustrade’ for the last time as I struggle the drier down the steps to the cabin. I’m doing more of that pack mule stuff as ‘Cara Mia’ signals the start of the last chase. ‘Cara Mia mine, must we say goodbye?’ I come back up to, ‘Crying at the Discotheque’ by Alcazar – Top Tune! There’s an element of surprise about the final chase, will the Dutchmen leave it as a three lap whitewash or go for a four lap Apocalypse?
They make it five laps. Hans and Moritz are heading for Australia to race madisons; Wojciech to a training camp in South Africa; the Czechs, Poles and Stephen back home, lugging bike boxes the size of small cars. What’s that? All the island ferries are cancelled because of the gales? It’s snowing in Edinburgh? Hawick is under water? Yeah, and we’re heading back to Scotland. See you at Het Nieuwsblad?
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.