PEZ Trackside At The ‘Rotterdam 6’: The Big Finalé!
The final days of the 2022 Rotterdam 6 days
Ed Track-Side: Last week Ed Hood made his return to the boards of the Ahoy Stadium in Rotterdam for his first ‘working holiday’ at a ‘6 Days’ since covid put everything on hold. Live through the final days of the Rotterdam six and the career of Niki Terpstra trackside with Ed.
# You can read part 1 of Ed Hood’s time at the Rotterdam ‘6 Days’ – Days 1 to 3, HERE. #
Saturday morning early, in the cabin – the cleaning ladies liked my choice of music and were giving me a little dance around their mops; I was going to go out and get some beers in but they said they had the rest of the stadium to clean. . .
DAY FOUR: We’ll start with two Harrie Lavreysen stories:
Usually, the six sprinters involved in the sprint tournament just get up and get on with it; but tonight I noticed that Harrie was highly focused before the time trial. Then his mechanic had to push him half way round the track so he could get on top of what was one big gear.
Remember I said the lap record was 9.852 seconds?
Not anymore, it’s now 9.733 seconds, courtesy Harrie.
He took his lap of honour on a contraption which had the sponsor’s unfortunately named – ‘Bastard’ – outdoor cooking device in the sidecar. ‘And the gearing?’ I asked the mechanic – 120 inches. . .
Harrie story number two:
The little guy who organises pushing off in the Derny and keirin has recognised me as a ‘soft touch’ so I’m constantly trotting round to the start to do the business.
One major benefit of this is that you come into close proximity of the podium girls and their perfume – but I digress. I was holding up big German sprinter, Robin Wagner next to the fence when he told me he’d be fine holding the rail and I should go down and look after even bigger Jeffrey Hoogland in position two – no one had come forward to hold him. There I am, holding up man mountain Hoogland when I feel someone grab me hard round the waist, my immediate thought is; ‘what have I done wrong?’ But it’s big Harrie, they’ve given him an amateur holder up who’s almost dropped him so Harrie has grabbed me for support. There I am holding up Big Jeffrey with Big Harrie hanging round my waist – I was glad when that gun fired to start the race.
I got down to the track early tonight to see how the GB boys, Joshua Giddings and Jack Brough were faring in the frenzy that is a u23 madison. ‘Well,’ was the answer and they looked on their way to winning the night until they were brought down in the closing laps.
The first aid guy was on hand and a spectator had handed them a glass of water each, apart from being shaken up they didn’t too worse for wear; we’ll see this evening [Saturday] when the u23 race concludes.
‘Danish Dynamite’ [I always thought it was a Swedish chap who invented the stuff but let’s not split hairs] Matias Malmberg & Marc Hester may be having a bit of a torrid time in the chases but are riding very well in the flying lap which they won again tonight.
There was only one chase tonight, 50 minutes plus 10 laps, the Belgian De Vylder/Hesters duo rode hard to defend yellow.
But the Italo/Dutch duo of Viviani/Hoppezak would end the night as leaders.
However, Niki & Yoeri look ominously strong.
Mean times, our three intrepid ‘squirrels’ continue to fight the good fight for not much recognition – but then they’re not Dutch. . .
I get to say that I watched The Netherlands go out of the World Cup with Niki Terpstra, one of the Belgian soigneur chaps was watching the penalty shootout on his iPhone. The start of the last race was delayed as a cluster of riders formed round then little screen – if only the Dutch hadn’t missed those first two penalties. . .
Still, the Belgians seemed happy with the result. . .
ciao, ciao. . .
07:00 am and I have the sounds on, a figure stumbles to the door of the cabin and looks at me a gaze which says; ‘turn that damn thing down, Boy!’
‘Sorry, Etienne,’ unknowns to me he’s trying to sleep in the cabin next door – and you don’t mess with him. . .
With one day to go, the classement looks like this :
1. Niki Terpstra (Hol) – Yoeri Havik (Hol) 348 points
2. Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) – Jules Hesters (Bel) 348
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) – Vincent Hoppezak (Hol) 330
How did it get like that?
Sadly, Josh Tarling sustained a concussion in his late crash with Jack Brough in last night’s u23 chase so couldn’t continue; victory going to the Franco/US duo of Nicolas Hamon and Peter Moore.
And maintaining his rep. as ‘Style King of the Ahoy,’ Elia now has a yellow helmet to match the tricot, the orange shoes have gone and the Pinarello now has yellow stripes and handlebar tape. Cool.
The first chase went to Big Roger & Cees Bol then it was time for my holding up duties for the sprinters, thankfully without drama tonight. De Vylder & Hesters won the first elimination and then it was ‘distraction’ time.
It’s a decade since I did Danny Stam’s ‘farewell’ interview with him, but here I am taking pictures of him as he chases a Derny round the Ahoy, what gives? The Niki Terpstra ‘intermezzo’ in the programme is actually a Derny race featuring some of the Dutchman’s old friends and rivals.
As well as Danny there’s Jens Mouris and Laurens Ten Dam – albeit the latter is more at home on gravel these days’
The winner, there could only be one; and seeing as he was on the podium at the Gent Six Day just the other week it would have been a surprise if it was anyone else. Iljoooo Keisse, complete with trade mark ‘wheelie’ when he crossed the line – good fun.
There was a bouquet and a photo op, with Niki, former World Points Champion and race director here, Peter Schep and them bonnie girls.
Time trial time and with Spaniard, Mora’s partner, Imhof neutralised with illness and Dane Malmberg’s partner, Marc Hester also out there was a new team on the boards for the two lap time trial, which only the top seven teams contested.
Elia sat impassively looking at the times, his expression said; ‘this should be no problem. . .
And true to form, more winner’s points went to Viviani/Hoppezak.
The big chase was wearing on for, ‘old school’ at 55 minutes plus 10 laps – 100 K chases were commonplace in the ‘old days – and it was no surprise to see war horse Terpstra and fast man Havik back on top.
De Vylder won the Derny; that’s his soigneur, Gunther with the towel, bottle and Sport Vlaanderen cap; I remember those days with Franco Marvulli, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv. . .
Then it was ‘ciao Niki’ time, a big strong, ‘old school,’ beast of a man with de Ronde and Roubaix on his palmarès – Respect! But we’ve perhaps not seen the last of him with a dossard on his back, he’s been riding big gravel races with some success.
And what do you know? We win! The Supersprint goes our way – and I had to scamper round with the towels and bottles after all.
The last race of the night for the six guys was the 30 laps scratch and whilst it looks like Seb Mora is mid-field here, he’d actually lapped the field. Niki and Yoeri lead going into the last day; can Niki make it five?
The last day is always the same, the early programme is light, everyone goes through the motions but really, it’s all about the last chase.
The rolling presentation went straight into the first chase, 30 minutes + 10 laps; with Elia back in orange. . .
Big Roger and Bol took that one; Rodge looks, ‘the business’ when in full flight, so strong, so smooth. When he was paired with Big Bob Bartko, a year or two ago they were impressive to watch, smooth, fast, tireless.
After the chase we were honoured by the ‘Capo,’ Niki himself visiting our cabin; but it wasn’t a social call, he was there to counsel Denis’ Italian partner, Matteo about his riding – the boy does get a bit, ‘gung ho’ as he snarls around the bowl in a less than smooth and straight fashion. Matteo didn’t answer him back – not a good idea to mess with Niki. The team elimination was next and we were treated to a young Belgian, Milan Van Den Haute out-sprinting Elia Viviani, one of the fastest guys on the planet. . . Hmmmm!
Next up we had a Women’s Derny; I was a bit miffed with this one, I’m required to push of hairy man mountains but not the little Dutch cuties? An injustice!
The time trial was a two lapper contested by the lower ranked teams, that went to team 5, Dutchman, Tuur Dens & Frenchman, Louis Pijourlet. Derny time and surprisingly, another Dutch win from Philip Heijnen. The sprinters’ final was next, it’s easy to remember who won that one, Harrie Lavreysen – but then he wins everything, although our boy Tomas Babek won the Derny tonight. Time for the big chase. . .
It has to be remembered that six days are as much about theatre as sporting endeavour and there’s always someone who’ll say, ‘fixed’ or ‘scripted.’ But they’re covering 100 kilometre plus each night with the Madisons run off at 55 and more kph.
Germany’s Theo Reinhardt is a former double World Madison Champion but he and his compatriot, Moritz Malcharek were at 15 laps going into tonight, that’s not scripted, that’s inability to live with the three or four top teams when it gets serious.
Niki and Yoeri ran out winners and no one could quibble with that, they were the strongest, here Niki smiles the winner’s smile.
In second place: De Vylder/Hester.
In third place: Hoppezak/Viviani.
The crowd went home happy and no one in the field would question the result, albeit I miss the ‘jams’ from days of old when it would take a team 20 laps to make the junction as the peloton rode hard in pursuit. Whipping round and taking a lap within three circuits of the track is a tad too good to be true for me. BUT the organisers at Rotterdam gave us a well organised six day and the fans turned out in support so there’s no complaints from us.
Thanks to Denis, Bartosz, Wojciech and Tomas for a great week. The Three Days of Berlin, January 27th 2023?
It’s possible . . .