What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Mix: Berlin Six, Day 5

On the second to last night the cream begins to rise to the top, riders weary, some defy politics to have their own revenge, and mechanics ripping at each others’ throats. It’s a good time to be had in Berlin, and once again, it’s Edmond Hood smack dab in the middle.

So Franco sits down in the track-side cabin and begins to read the paper, nothing unusual in that I hear you say; except that he’s just finished the 30 minute madison, I have to stand and wait patiently whilst he finishes the article he is reading before I can pull his jersey and vest off then wash him down with cologne – have we said enough about the first chase?

Marvelous Marvulli plies his trade.

Now THAT Was A Chase
The second [45 minute] chase was different though; I had to jog round to the finish with his towel and a drink – he and Marco Villa had just won and were being presented with the spoils of victory, not least of which was getting a hold of the hot pant girls – even Marco was smiling. The closing stages of that chase saw Franco at ‘full gas’ for the first time this six and he looked very impressive, maybe I’m going to be a runner to a Six Day winner, wouldn’t that make me unbearable?

The Contenders
Robert Slippens and Danny Stam are still looking sharp however, of the other favourites I can’t see Matt Gilmore and Iljo Keisse winning – a little bird tells me that Gilmore is in pain from a shoulder injury. The organisers always like a home winner, but it has to be credible – Rolf Aldag has never looked ‘super’ in this race, Bartko looks good but I think a German win would simply not ring true.

Marvulli is a contender with whomever he is paired with – especially with the sage Marco Villa.

Good Night And Prinzen Rolle
We had a good night, Alex Rasmussen won the devil; Jozef Zabka and Martin Liska won the flying kilometre [a 59] and of course ‘Marvellous Marvulli’ [as they call him in the ‘six day song’ – yes it’s true, there is one!] won the big chase. The day started much earlier with us biscuit shopping in the Aldi discount store, I wonder what the old ladies think about two big middle-aged guys squabbling about which biscuits to buy? ‘Prinzen – Rolle’ is THE Six Day biscuit, in this milieu it’s social suicide if these aren’t on your cabin table.

Protocol Failure
Talking of the cabin, we had a protocol failure last night, Franco brought a journalist into the cabin without warning Kris – not done, it’s the inner sanctum where the guys can wander about in their under pants if they want and talk about whatever they feel like. Even I am not allowed to take pictures in the cabin if any one is in.

I just was thinking about the best and worst parts of my day, best has to be the cheese omelette for breakfast; worst has to be the nightmare of taking the riders’ orders for dinner.

Speaking of contenders, German Leif Lampater, just barely out of the U23 ranks, is a big time player in the Sixes already – and very much in the mix in Berlin.

The Kids Get Everything These Days
It just dawned on me tonight that the music for the Under 23 race is actually decent enough, it’s just when the pros come on that the Euro-pop kicks in, as a continental European there must come a day in your life when you waken up and have a need, a compulsion, to buy a whistle and learn the ‘Birdie Dance’.

Mechanics On The Rampage
War broke out today among the mechanics, a flying 15 sprocket just missed my foot; Thomas has purloined a couple of Ken’s riders for Hasselt [near Brussels, the last Six of the season which comes after Copenhagen] – the atmosphere in the mechanics’ camp could be cut with a knife.

A picture of peace amid the mechanic war.

One of the mechanics was changing the gear on a stayer’s bike from 66 x 16 up to a 67; the rings are 1/8” pitch and weigh a ton.

It was an earlier start tonight, 7.00 pm and the crowd was sparse but by the time the sprinters were doing their flying laps around 10.00, the place was sold out and the food and drink was flying over the counters. They use the theme from ‘Zorba’ as background music to the flying laps and as the guys hurtle off the bankings old girls are giving it Greek dancing with a fag in one hand and a beer in the other, it’s great.

Emergency Emergency, Gel Needed
I had two emergencies tonight, first we ran out of wine gums and I had to sprint down to the cabin for reserve supplies; then Jozef needed hair gel for his new trendy long haired image, Marvulli always stashes the gel so it was another trip to the cabin for me to rummage through Jozef’s big bag.

Andreas Kappes has been doing his thing for too many years to count now.

Evergreen Andreas Kappes
Andy Kappes may be the oldest rider in the race but with his thick black hair, toothpaste ad smile and perma-tan he’s a handsome wee devil. The equally tanned Mrs. Kappes is here every night to keep an eye on her man and ensure he doesn’t stray, ‘does she come to many sixes?’ I asked Kris; ‘every one!’ was the reply.

Rest assured, his wife is somewhere within 100 meters.

At 10.40 it’s ‘show time’ the band rattle out 60s and 70s hits and then – ‘Agadoo!’ it’s not easy this runner’s life.

Taking Politics Into Their Own Hands
There’s a political situation here with our two young Danes, Alex Rasmussen and Michael Morkov; early in the Six they were losing laps to the other Danish pairing in the race – stalwart Jimmi Madsen [who has ridden well over 100 sixes] paired with ‘wonder kid’ Marc Hester. Because Madsen is one of the ‘old guard’ he gets cut a lot more slack and Hester benefits. However, our guys have had enough and have taken to closing-down their compatriots when they try to take a lap, this is ruffling a few feathers – but weakness isn’t respected in this world.

It’s a classic Six Day situation though because in a couple of days Michael will be riding with Hester at Copenhagen and new allegiances will have to be formed. One more day to go, just one more omelette, one more dinner nightmare, one more set of pee-pails to empty then it’s off to Copenhagen – to start all over again.

Can Franco and Marco win?

Watch this space.

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