What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ In The Trenches: The Rotterdam Six Finale

The Six Day circus has moved on from Rotterdam to Bremen, but before we turn our eyes to Germany, there’s a classic six that needs to play out its final two acts in the Netherlands. With four days down, there’s only one thing left to do: the finale. Read on for the conclusion of this year’s Rotterdam Six!

‘The Yanks are coming!’ well, they’re here already, Barry Miller and Colin Barry ride the U23 six.

Colin is still a junior and there’s a lot to learn, they’re three laps down with one day to go – hardly a disaster.

Colin and Barry.

And the girls race here too; Kirsten Wild is the stand out performer, in the points race tonight she took off, lapped the field but didn’t make the junction until after the sprint so as she could claim the points, too.

Kirsten Wild.

We had a sponsors visit tonight; Franco’s silver tongue practically had the guys signing up to sponsor a Pro Tour squad on the spot.

Dernys time and it struck me that we have two legends of the sport, here in Rotterdam.

Bruno Walrave, former Derny and big motors pace driver is one; when I was a boy the cycling magazines always called the big motors guys; ‘the men in black leather’ – this gave them a Jack Palance kind of an aura to a kid from Kirkcaldy.

Bruno Walrave.

I was sorry to see the big motors get the chop from the Worlds – but there was so much payola money floating around that its demise was inevitable.

Bruno was unique in that he was the only driver whose full time gig was to hurtle round tracks with a push bike in tow – all the others had a ‘day job.’

Joop Zijlaard manning the derny.

Joop Zijlaard is here too, but he’s still up there, turning the pedals on the little Derny in between managing his two restaurants in Rotterdam.

We got some flowers for the cabin – and an excuse to photograph the pretty girls – when Jesper won the devil.

Jesper and his temporary entourage.

Big French sprinter Kevin Sireau took the lap record down Sir Chris Hoy’s 10.3 to 10.297; another record to the collection – but ‘slow’ compared to his 9.5 world record in Moscow.

We had a flash of old time six day glamour when former boxing star Regilio Tuur came to cool – the man knows how to dress, that’s for sure.

Regilio Tuur paid a visit.

It was an echo of the days which Hemingway wrote about in ‘Moveable Feast’ when the 1930’s rich and famous would visit the Vel d’Hiver in Paris to watch the racing, drink cocktails and let the ordinary folks see their furs.

The second Derny race went to a Dutchman, again – pretty much the trend here.

I pushed off Alex again and was reminded of my state of gross unfitness by how long it took me to recover from the effort – mind you, it wouldn’t be so bad if I was pushing off Danny Stam, there’s nothing of him.

Andy Lakatosh goes head to head with Mulder.

T-Town’s Andy Lakatosh continues to spar with the best sprinters in the world, maybe he hasn’t got Sireaus’s ultimate speed or Mulder’s endurance but he’s putting on a good show and the organisers won’t be unhappy with him.

We have a new band tonight, they obviously listened to a lot of Beatles and Stones when they were young – but they’re good and Franco ‘digs them, man.’

Franco was telling me that early in his career at ‘a certain North European Six Day Race’ – I can’t say the name, I still have to go there this winter and don’t want banned – for music they had one C30 compilation cassette which they endlessly played and replayed throughout the entire race.

Marvellous approves.

Jesper had to sit out the big chase, his knee is playing up a little and besides, Alex needs a partner . . .

On the subject of Alex’s former partner, Nick Stopler, the word is that things aren’t as bad as was first feared – but his plaster has to stay on for at least six weeks.

Injured Nick Stopler visited and chatted with his friends.

The chase wasn’t the hardest ever but neither was it easy and there were some big names fraying at the edges before the night was out.

Last night’s 30 minute chases are one thing, a full hour is another – and the news from Copenhagen is that to celebrate the race’s 50th anniversary and the 40th year of promotion by Henrik Elmgreen, the first chase will be 100 kilometres.

We all have our own views on this; I think maybe for a closing chase and pull out the team in last position every 30 minutes, so no one gets too embarrassed or wasted?

But not to start the race – in the second hour the small teams will fall to pieces, but maybe that’s the idea?

Iljo looked to be the strongest man in the race when the hammer was down, Terpstra digs deep but you can see by his revs that he’s dropping a couple of kilometres per hour on Iljo’s velocity when he’s ‘in.’

They took the chase but Franco and Mouris are top of the leader board.

Arnaud Tournant gives Franco a few moments off his feet.

And to end the night on a ‘high’ French multiple world track champion Arnaud Tournant popped in to chat to Franco and give me some good photo opportunities.

Merci, Arnaud.

Day Six
Wednesday, 09:52 a truck stop near Arnhem – we drove for an hour and more after the finale then crawled into our bunks.

The story ?

Marvulli and Mouris were good, but Schep and Stroetinga were better; Danny cried on the podium but the organiser smiled – a full house and a home win.

A happy Franco Marvulli.

It all came down to a points sprint shoot out in the last 50 laps.

Schep/Stroetinga, Marvulli/Mouris and Stam/Havik were all on the same lap but Danny and Yoeri were way down on points – they had to go for the lap.

They tried, but there are few fairy tales in the sixes, Havik in particular was tired and the string hauled them back.

Marvulli was a joy to watch, back to being ‘Marvellous;’ and his big partner Mouris will be a real asset to GreenEdge’s team time trial squad – big and powerful.

Jens Mouris has been putting time in on his SCOTT Foil outside during the daylight hours ahead of the racing each night.

The man from Zurich took the first two of the last four points sprints; but Stroetinga is rapid and bested Marvulli in the crucial last two mad charges for the line.

Stroetinga had a minute to talk to me, whilst his UCi ‘you know what’ chaperone hovered.

‘Normally I’m faster than Franco, but in those two sprints he was good.

But I was too strong for him in the last two – coming in to the last one Peter did a double turn so as I would be fresh for the sprint and it worked perfectly for us.’

Marvellous was philosophical in defeat; ‘The race was really decided with around 25 minutes to go when Jens and I went for the lap to put us level – it took us 20 laps and cost us a lot of effort.

I think I won the first two sprints through desperation, I knew I had to win them to put us in contention but when Wim took the ten laps to go sprint I knew it was over for us.

Credit to Peter and Wim, they rode a clever, tactical race all week and saved their energy well.’

Danny was tearful on the podium; when I interviewed him down in Grenoble back in November about his impending retirement he was a little off hand – in a ‘no big deal’ kind of a way.

But as the gold confetti fell, the flash guns sparkled and the pretty girls posed, the realisation hit the man from North Holland that he’d flicked a Giant round those plywood boards for the last time.

The hours leading to the last chase of a six day always feel a little strange, the devils, Dernys and points motions have to be gone through – but the night is all about those final 60 minutes + 50 ronden.

The home pair of Baarle and Slik took the overall in U23 six and Kirsten Wild took the ladies’ result – she was in a different league, if truth be told.

Baarle and Slik – U23 winners.

And then it was time for the disco ball to crank up and Robbie Williams to holler he was going to ‘Entertain’ us.

The 60 lap chase is a tad lame but ‘Love is in The Air’ is always a good tune to watch a madison to.

A visitor – Thomas Dekker, didn’t he . . .

Yeah, that’s him.

But he’s done his time and JV has given him a second chance with Garmin.

Thomas Dekker.

The devil and Iljo gives Marc Hester a body slam in the last straight that a wrestler would be proud of – Iljo wins, the crowd cheer, Marc scowls.

A smiling Nick Stopler comes to visit; it’ll be six weeks before he knows how the operation went.

Nick Stopler.

The ‘Super Sprint’ next, this is a strange one, 60 laps with sprints every 20 laps – whoever wins the first sprint wins the race, then the team that wins the second and third sprints are second and third – and if you win a sprint then you can come off the track.

Does that make sense ?

No ?

Good, I thought it was just me.

Traksel and Vermeulen take a flyer to win – Alex wins the second one; ‘just so I could get off the track !’

Sprinter time, the flying lap and Andy Lakatosh dips under 11 seconds for the first time; that looks so much better on the score board.

Sireau falls off somehow as he trickles round the slow running lane – then gets up to win in 10.4.

The Derny final, Danny is in this one – I wonder who’ll win ?

Danny ! that’s a surprise !

Danny Stam.

Time trial time and Schep/Stroetinga scorch it, again.

Danny again – his farewell, this time.

Danny Stam bids the crowd in Rotterdam farewell.

His pairing with Robert Slippens was one of the best I’ve ever seen – but for me he’s not been the same Danny since Bob retired after a bad crash.

Nonetheless there were 16 six day wins, a European madison title, a Worlds madison bronze and two Worlds madison silvers during his career – those aren’t bad stats.

Chase time – as the riders take to the boards, we start to break camp.

There are 28 minutes plus 50 laps to go when I get track side – it all came down to the final 50 laps.

Stroetinga and Schep atop the podium.

But I told you that already . . .

It’s a grey day in Germany; we have 130 kilometres still to run to Bremen where we’re picking up Brad Huff at the airport.

Another six day, another adventure, another tale to be told – but only on PEZ.

‘Here, Kris ! when do we eat ?’

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