What's Cool In Road Cycling

Grenoble Six: Nights Five And Six

The final two nights have come and gone and all that remains are the story and pictures from yet another Six Day tended to by the inimitable Edmond Hood. Mr. Hood takes us back track-side for the final third of the Grenoble Six, a thrilling race only decided in the final madison.

One of the the things you forget about in the Sixes is that no matter how bad the crash is – “the band plays on.” When Stoentinga came down like a chimney being demolished with dynamite the other night the band was doing a Glenn Miller medley and as the Dutchman was scraped off the boards they were playing ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’, complete with telephone-ring effects – surreal.

Is it over yet?

Night five wasn’t great racing, after all the bitching the night before I guess nobody could raise an argument – not even Marco Villa.

“Cool” – it’s a concept we’ve wrestled with before. Paolo Bettini is a cool guy, but he doesn’t look cool – too much “bling”. The much-missed, Super Mario was the only guy who could pull-off that stripes and colour co-ordination thing.

Franco Marvulli (right) casts an imposing, smooth figure on the track.

Franco Marvulli is tall, slim, handsome, charismatic and has a unique “loose” style when he’s “full-gas” – a cool guy. But for me, coolest guy on the track is Dutch World points champion, Peter Schep; tall, slim, quiet but he always acknowledges humble runners like me, he wears his rainbow jersey with pride, not arrogance. On the bike there are no pained expressions or extraneous movement, he sits rock-still, back flat and parallel to the track, for me, he’s poetry in motion.

Mr. Hood things that one Peter Schep is even cooler though.

It’s 17.30 on the last night, another trip to the bakers, I’ve been in so often I get freebees now – “l’anee prochaine” we say to each other – “next year.”

Natalie’s pizza van 18.35, the boys want pizza, so here I am, one chorizo, one marguerite and one mega-mix. The chase is 180 laps, so I guess they’ll burn it off OK.

Franco just handed me a nice crisp 50 euro note; they’ve had their contract money then, they get the prime money tonight after the race. I think I’ll have a Pelforth brune bierre while I’m waiting, mmmmm! Nice!

Fired-up the tumble drier for the first time tonight at 21.45, first race was a 30l lap points, Bettini & Villa won it, just two more races to go.

A runner’s cleaning duties are exceedingly important, and thus, the runner does a lot of laundry.

The flying three lap time trial, 22.30. It has teams of three going from a flying start – a six day team plus a sprinter, Van Mechelen & DeFauw with Arnaud Tournant won it, they would have won by a wider margin if Tournant hadn’t “died.”

I just spoke to Craig MacLean and he says he’s tired – maybe if he hadn’t ridden his track bike up a mountain the other day he’d feel better.

Nearly midnight and the big chase is on, I’ve missed most of it. The start of the last madison is our signal to break-camp. All that stuff we lugged in has to be lugged out. Franco hates when he comes into the cabin at the end of the race and it’s a shell again, but we gotta go. The Danish guys have to be at Lyon to fly to Australia for a World Cup at 6.00. That’s 30 to go, let’s have a look at this race.

Alex Aeschbach celebrates his fourth win in Grenoble.

Our man, Franco Marvulli and partner, Alexander Aeschbach are leading, danger men are the Orangemen Peter Schep and Jens Mouris who are on the same lap. Schep attacks, Aeschbach counters but Schep is going-away, Alex slings-in Franco, he’s not full-gas but he’s close, the gap shrinks as Franco whirls those 175 cranks, Mouris comes in, Franco puts Alex in, he keeps the gap stable then it’s Franco v. Schep, despite the Dutchman’s perfect style the big, rangey Franco wants his fourth win in Grenoble real bad and they’re all together. It’s too late for another attack and to crown the glory Franco out-sprints Alex Rasmussen for the double points on the line.

The final festivities after a long six nights.

We can go home now.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.