The Winter ‘6 Day’ Season So Far!
Winter 2016/17 ‘6 Day’ Round Up: Ed Hood is at this moment in Berlin working with ‘The Squirrels’ of the boards at the ‘6 Day’. Before he gives us the inside line on the German race he has managed to write up the 2016/17 winter season, between running after his riders. London, Gent, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bremen and now Berlin – Ed’s ‘6 Day’ round up.
The first thing to mention about this winter’s six day scene is that that the Madison Sports organization has added Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen to London in their portfolio. There’s an overall classement with a “finale” in Mallorca in the spring, the exact details of which are ‘sketchy’ – we’ve heard a one day event but perhaps two. The format is that the same National teams must ride a minimum of two events. In theory, great; in practice very restricting – with many riders having other commitments like training camps, team presentations and preparation for World Cups.
Cav and Wiggo – A big draw at the 6s
But if you’re Cav or Wiggins you do what you want; with the organizers on their knees begging you to ride their race. London was a ‘real’ six for 2016, the first of the ‘new’ London Six days in 2015 was actually a ‘one plus five.’ A one day ‘omnium’ type format – with Scotland’s Mark Stewart running out winner – then a five day race. This format had to be adopted to allow some of the field to honor other commitments at the European Championships.
Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw, winners in London
For 2016 the Belgian 2015 London winners – winter track specialists, Top Sport Vlaanderen’s former world madison champion Kenny De Ketele paired with talented youngster, Moreno De Pauw to deny Cav and Wiggins the home win.
2015 and 2016 winners
I asked Kris – PEZ’s man on the inside and soigneur on the scene since the golden days of the 70’s – why he thought the ‘Brits’ didn’t get to win their home race; “because they wanted to win in Ghent, it was very important to Bradley to win there, the city of his birth.” Why didn’t I think of that?
Cavendish and Wiggins celebrated 2nd place in London
And indeed, the combination of missile from the middle of the Irish Sea and latter day Mod from Kilburn did indeed win in Flanders’ capital city – which was the next race on the agenda. At the post-race press conference Sir Brad compared his pairing with Cav as on a par with Clark & Allan and Merckx & Sercu. At the risk of being sent to the Tower of London for contradicting a knight of the realm, I can but say; “you’ve a fair wee bit to go before you can make those comparisons, Sir Brad.” Ghent is definitely not part of the Madison circus, as Patrick Sercu said; “why would I want to join that?” Indeed, with practically all of the 2017 race tickets already sold, why indeed?
Wiggins wanted the win in the city of his birth
Cavendish and Wiggins – Not quite Sercu and Merckx
Amsterdam next and the Belgian duo of De Ketele/De Pauw prevailed again in front of a poor crowd to damning reviews from those who watched on all important Eurosport TV. After Amsterdam the sports television giant pulled the plug on their coverage of the rest of Madison’s events – Berlin and Copenhagen. A big blow to the cash flow predictions, that one – Eurosport said it was because they had too many events to cover. A more plausible explanation was that lack lustre racing streamed out of the velodrome.
Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw – winners again in Amsterdam
Niki Terpstra couldn’t even lift the excitement level in Amsterdam
Rotterdam next and by all accounts a rare ‘straight’ race with organizer, former World Points champion and six day man, the stylish Peter Schep telling the riders he want no ‘choreography’ for his paying public. Giro stage winner and new – and highly effective – lead out man for Orica-Scott’s Caleb Ewan, big German Roger Kluge paired with compatriot Christian Grasmann – who used to describe himself as a ‘hobby cyclist’ – to beat Jesper Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen – the Danes doubtless ‘tuning up’ for Copenhagen. Word is that Kluge was bestialy strong, riding the field of his wheel. De Ketele/De Pauw finished fourth.
The strong pairing of Roger Kluge and Christian Grasmann dominated Rotterdam
Home-boys Wim Stroetinga and Dylan Van Baarle
The home city of Becks beer next – Bremen and the most technical and disliked track on the circuit, at 166 meters, the same as Ghent but ‘squashed’ with longer straights and tight corners. There was talk of a boycott as the riders wrestled with ‘waves’ in the boards but contract fees got the better of the ‘squirrels’ – as they used to call six day riders – and the show went on. The man who’s still the finest six day rider on the boards – but has to fit in his sixes round his role as a key part of the Etixx – Quick-Step WorldTour team – Iljo Keisse, teamed with big, strong local boy Marcel Kalz to take the win.
But at a cost – as Kalz nurses a hideous saddle sore from battling with those ‘wall of death’ curves and uneven boards in Bremen. Bremen too rejected the advances of the Madison Group, with good crowds and local TV they couldn’t think why they needed to change. . .
Keisse – 6 Day winner and road ace
The track in Bremen – Not a fav with the riders
Sir Bradley Wiggins was actually signed for the Bremen and Berlin six days but with the Media’s jaws locked on to the TUE and ‘package’ stories like a terrier, he’s decided to end his career.
Sir Wiggo retires
And now the circus has headed south to the wide open 250 meter prairies of Berlin. This six is the third in the Madison series, unsurprisingly De Ketele/De Pauw go in as series leaders with a ‘full marks’ 200 points ahead of Leif Lampater and aforementioned Marcel Kalz on 130 points.
Leif Lampater behind the derny in Berlin
Madison have made big changes here in the city of the bear with the format changed so as the ‘big motor’ bike races so beloved by the locals go off late, after the last chase. This suits the back up staff with the noise and exhaust fumes left behind as six day riders, soigneurs, runners and mechanics head for the cabins below the track.
Two of Ed’s charges; Nico Hesslich and Achim Burkhart – German madison champions
But some of the changes don’t chime so well, the pits area has been moved into the centre of the track, isolated from the boards with riders having to negotiate a ‘runway’ to the track. It divorces the staff from the riders, making it difficult to see what’s happening and impossible to give riders their helping shove ‘in’ or offer a hand to haul them in at the end of a race. Progress. . .
Andreas Graf (Austria) former European champion
# PEZ is here in Berlin to take you inside the weird and wonderful world of the six days – stay tuned! #
Can you see Ed in the Berlin track center?
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,200 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.