What's Cool In Road Cycling

Zurich Six Night 2: In The Trenches!

We left Ed yesterday after Day 1 scratching his head and marvelling at the Swiss engineering and timing at the temporary track in Zurich. This time Ed’s right in the thick of the action working as a runner for the stars, photographer and writer for PEZ and still getting out there to watch the races as the big Six Day fan that he is. It’s track time!

It’s a bummer that cycling’s very own Nostradamus, Viktor discovered that the race has a live ‘net feed; ‘and another thing – why are they playing the theme from Bonanza!?’ It’s not easy being Vik’s buddy, sometimes. It was another 100 lap chase to start with – not too frantic, but Marc Hester did puncture. There’s so little room beside the track and the cabins that in the chases, wheels have to be changed behind the cabins.

Dirk was his usual cool self, whilst Marc fretted about lost laps and thought about those 75 euros for a new Conti tubular. On the subject of equipment, Tristan Marguet’s mechanic was building up another Focus for his man.

In line with the hi-tech way bikes are going, there’s a slot for the SRM sensor in the chainstay.

SRM or not, the rear ends are old school – massive.

Stayers next – the crowd love them; the noise does my head in. Guest starter of the race was countryman, Bruno Walrave.

Bruno was a Derny and Big Motors King, perhaps not as high profile as recently retired Joop Zijlaard but he won the world motor paced championships 15 times – nine times amateur, five professional and one ‘open.’ There’s never been a Derny Worlds, but Bruno won the European Champs three times.

He’s another man who’s mellowed out now that he doesn’t have to saddle up – even though he was sitting on top of an engine.

There was a puncture in the stayer race, but stayers don’t pay to have a pukka mechanic like the six day riders – usually just a friend or family member. The difference shows; Dirk has his riders back in the race within a lap or two – the stayer riders stand sweating for lap after lap as their helper wrestles with the change.

The 1,000 metres time trial was again dominated by ‘Marvellous’ and ‘Rocket Man’ – 54.3 seconds. The sprint series ‘Wertung’ are difficult to get excited about – there’s a sprint every 10 laps over 50 laps with each rider doing 25 laps.

The riders caught their breadth before the big chase – 250 laps – and that gave the carpenters a chance to give the track some TLC.

In this case, some black sticky tape.

We had a royal visitor tonight – Bruno Risi, the last proper king of the six days. There was no long, slow decline for Bruno – he quit while right at the top. One half of the most successful six day team in history – paired with brother-in-law Kurt Betschart they took 37 wins.

The man with the most famous mullet in cycling (now sadly, gone) won in Zurich 11 times, seven times with Kurt, twice with Danny Stam and twice with ‘Marvellous.’

Also here is six times Zurich winner, points race king and Tour de France stage winner, Urs Freuler – now race director.

‘Marvellous’ is still one of the fastest riders on the boards, burning up the pine here and at Ghent. But his ‘core’ must be called in to question; DNF at Amsterdam and Grenoble, he wasn’t there when the hammer went down in Ghent – personally, I don’t think he can win here. The race organisers are marketing him as the local stag – this is his territory.

As the English would say, a tad ‘naff’ – but I do like the stag call; ‘aaahhh ooohhh!’ which they blast over the PA when he goes for a lap. But at the risk of splitting hairs, it sounds more like a moose to me – or maybe an elk?

Anyway – the chase was no cake walk, you can tell how fast the race is by the noise the track makes – it rattles and flaps as the peloton hurtles past.

The ante was upped for tonight – 250 laps. Not helped by dire music – we’ll need to have a word with ‘Mr. Music,’ our deejay, Englishman Pete Traynor.

There are four strong teams – Marvulli/Marguet, De Ketele/Schep, Dilier/O’Shea and Hondo/Kluge, so the chases aren’t ‘exhibition races.’

And there are some hardy teams just below – Olympic omnium champ Hansen rides with experienced Marc Hester, for example; Muller and Graf are strong men too.

Marvulli wants to win, but I think Kenny De Ketele really wants to win – and it strikes me that the edge is off O’Shea since Ghent.

Martin, Alois and Martin know they’ve been in a race when we haul them in after the chases – but morale is good.
Dernys; more noise, more exhaust fumes, another local win – surprising.

Time for the flying lap and the Spaniards go top in 10.3; Franco winds it, high, high on that fence, Tristan tucks in tight out of that heavy Zurich air, the sling is perfect and the ‘Rocket Man’ zooms through the beam, the crowd go bananas, Tristan is flying – 10.054! Cue stag call and big applause.

And I’ve revised my opinion, it’s not that the track is short; it’s the timing, with this being Switzerland, the Swiss timing makes the Swiss guys go faster – simple!
Or maybe Tristan really is as fast as Jason Kenny?

See you tomorrow.

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