What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ In The Trenches: The Finale In Zьrich

The crowd went home happy, ‘Home Boy’ Marvulli won, partnered by ‘Golden Boy’ Iljo; and not only that, there was a another Suisse on the podium – Silvan Dillier in second spot, paired with Aussie Glenn O’Shea, who was looking much sharper that he did in Gent. Let’s go back to the final two nights of racing to see how Mavelous and Golden Boy took the top step.

Dillier should have ridden with regular U23 partner, Claudio Imhof, but Imhof ‘got sick’ as they say here and there was a quick reshuffle of the pack.

Imhof/Dillier, the next Risi/Betschart ?

Time will tell.

In third spot were Germans Robert Bartko and Danilo Hondo – winners here in 2010, but Old Father Time is no longer on their team.

But let’s get back to Friday:

Franco goes, Iljo, Franco again but Bartko and Lampater aren’t having it, the big Suisse shakes his head

He goes again, 18 to go, Barth is on his wheel and he can’t lift it, they have the gap.

Iljo’s spell, he uses the entire track, higher than most out of the banking, diving into the next turn on the black line, threading through the traffic like that Dolan is part of him.

Franco again, the near-full house is on its feet, maybe not Marvellous at his very best, but he’s good, Iljo, Franco, Iljo – the Belgian pops a 50 cm. wheelie as he re-joins the string.

The crowd go mad – small wonder, great racing, the best I’ve seen this year.

Franco takes Iljo’s massive sling; show boater he may be, but the effort shows on the Gentenaar’s face as he tries to regain his composure for the final sprint.

Franco isn’t the smoothest of riders; his big frame flops around on that little Price but no one is going to win that sprint except him – his town, his track, his victory.

There are times when the drone of the Dernys or the roar of the stayer bikes and sometimes the white noise rolling down from the sound stage make you think; ‘this is grim!’

But when the magic is there, you remember why you love six day racing.

It was always going to be a long night, but moments like that shorten the long hours; and we had another ‘moment’ late in the night – but we’ll come to that.

It was a rolling presentation again, we like those – a big crowd almost fill the hall and Pete Traynor is banging out the good tunes.

Dominique’s morale isn’t good but he gets through the ‘little’ chase.

Whilst the chase is on, Dirk tells me about the ‘fixie races’ they’re having in Gent – for 100 guys only, they get an email the night before telling them when and where the start is, when they get to the address they’re given the finish address; two basic rules – no brakes, no helmets!

The ‘fixie guys’ sport big hair, piercings, tattoos and attitude – Dirk had a stayer’s bike in the window of his shop, the ‘fixie guys’ saw it and were saying to him; ‘hey! can we ride this in the city?’

Marc and Jesper lead the chase ’til late in the day – but Danes winning a Friday night chase in Zurich?

O’Shea/Dillier go very late and take it – the Swiss lives half-an-hour away so it’s a big surprise for us when he wins . . .

The big motors are as noisy as ever.

Sprinters, no one to trouble old Gregory Bauge, I’m thinking; Pete Jacques reckons he could get up there and beat them – but that Swiss beer is strong stuff.

The big chase distance is up to 300 laps tonight but Dominique is off the hook; Dominik Stucki’s partner is down with a bad tummy so they pair him with Alex Aeschbach.

Dominique rides the other races but sits out the chase – good for the legs, but bad for the self respect.

‘Highway to Hell’ pumps – Pete Traynor is on form – then the Stones, ‘Brown Sugar’ as the chase hurtles past.

An ‘old rider’ comes to call, German Carsten Wolf four six day wins off 75 starts, a world junior pursuit championship, a world team pursuit championship and an Olympic silver in the same discipline – watch for the interview on PEZ.

After the big chase we have a show – techno.

DJ Tatana comes to call at the cabin; ‘did you like the music?’

‘Eh, well, I’m an old guy . . .

One lap time trial, Iljo and Franco miss it hundredths to O’Shea/Dillier.

Midnight – we should be going home.

More sprinters, best keep an eye on Pete, he’s still on the beer – he’ll be up there if I’m not careful.

Dirk decides he wants in on this journalism act; ‘night three – nothing happened!’

The balustrade sprint isn’t as cool as the Copenhagen one but it gets the riders out of our hair.

More stayers, 125 laps x six bikes – that’s 750 opportunities to damage your hearing watching just one race.

The sprint series is supposed to be a calm affair but Big Bob Bartko comes on with the monkey business and goes for a lap.

Marc Hester is up and is hollering down at Jesper – who’s chatting to us – to get up on the track, we push him in to the fray as chairs fly.

Meanwhile, Dillier chats to his dad as O’Shea screams down at him to get up on the boards.

‘Excuse me Silvan, but there’s a chase started,’ I explain to him.

‘Cheese?’ he replies.

‘No, no, chase ! madison!’

I point up at the track where O’Shea is glaring daggers down at his team mate and eventually his mechanic gets him up there.

It’s all great fun for a Friday night.

‘That was exciting,’ I say to Franco as he comes down, he flashes me a; ‘shut up, Ed!’ look as Kris and I chuckle.

It was a good way to end the night.

The last day was a long one . . . .

It’s a rolling presentation, again – and poor amateur sprinting, again.

The first chase over 125 laps is pretty brisk, but not a ‘death race,’ you wouldn’t expect that with the finale just hours away.

The house is filling nicely and it’s easy to tell when a Suisse goes for a lap – the normally reserved Swiss holler like drunken Belgians at ‘t Kuipke – well, maybe not quite . . .

Big Bob and Danilo take it.

Stayers – and the ‘civilians’ are too close to the track, if one of those monsters clips someone and there’s a crash, I’d rather be over the Suisse border.

More exhaust noise – Derny one, Derny two; stressful.

The Skoda sprint, Franco wins, time for me to amble round with his cap – those podium girls sure smell nice.

Show time, they’re not too bad at all and the boys are all under control.

Go for a wander, there’s Urs Freuler, one of the organisers; ten times a world track champion – but nursing a bad knee at the moment.

Kurt Betschart, with Bruno Risi, one half of the most successful six day team ever, with 37 wins; not to mention 30 second places and 19 third places.

Bruno was also one half of the fourth most successful team ever, with 19 wins – Risi/Marvulli.

Kurt works in the media now and is a much more affable man than he ever was as a rider.

And ‘last, but not least’ as the speaker at Gent likes to say, Peter Jacques the former British track international and now contract ‘mover and shaker’ – if you want to ride the Revolution at Manchester, he’s your man.

Time trial , the Belgians don the Kask helmets – they’re serious.

It’s 10.3 – that’s quick, 10.4 is the best this week.

Franco and Iljo; the Gentenaar winds it, the Home Boy takes the sling, he’s loose, gangly but FAST – 10.2.

O’Shea leads, Dillier breaks the beam, he’s smooth – 10.0.

Wow ! the crowd likes that.

The amateurs are up again, for the last time, they get the best sounds, Alcazar – ‘Crying at the Discotech’ and Kylie – ‘All the Lovers.’

Time for the pro devil, Lou Bega – ‘Mambo Number Five’ and I wish I was in the stand, with a beer.

More big motors and Suisse, Giuseppe Atzeni wins – again.

For me the two stayer sessions each night is too much, but the crowd love it.

And as Franco says; ‘there’s a big stayer tradition, here in Zurich.’

The lap board flashes back to 0 then up to 250 – that’s 50 kilometres.

We get the drinks ready, the boys come in for a last drink or a nerves fueled pee.

They line up, Hondo jokes with his mechanic, who’s holding him up, Franco looks tense, the crowd counts it down with the speaker – bang !

Last chase.

I have to do all that runner breaking camp stuff.

When I get back it’s inside 200 to go and Eddy Grant’s anti-apartheid anthem, ‘Joanna’ blasts out.

The Hacecky brothers look weary, the Czechs are cool guys, Wojtech told Kris earlier; ‘my brother, he is tired!’ but he uses a different word to describe fatigue.

I have to be honest, the chase ain’t the best, Friday night’s was much better.

But the sounds are good and the podium girls get better looking every night – and that’s with no alcohol.

Franco goes for the winning lap late in the day, Iljo is ‘on’ – fast, dynamic, a joy to watch as his guidance locks on to the tail of the string, he pops a wheelie and slings Franco in to make the final junction.

Two laps to go, no one will get past Franco in this sprint, even though it’s academic – they’re a lap clear.

Iljo is already orbiting above the blue line, arms high.

Bang !

Fraaan-co Maaarvuuulli ! cries the speaker, the crowd goes wild, Franco’s long arms reach for the stadium roof, Marco, his mechanic jigs a little jig – we shake hands, job done.

‘Hey Kris, who do we have at Rotterdam ?’

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