What's Cool In Road Cycling

Trackside Ed: Rotterdam And Bremen ‘6 Days’ Revealed!

Roadside PEZ: Ed Hood has had a shortened 2017/18 ‘6 Day’ season with only Gent on the calendar, but last week he jetted off to catch the finalé in Rotterdam and the full action in Bremen. Ed takes us behind the scenes, round the boards and into the cabins of the Bremen ÖVB-Arena… and makes a new friend!

PEZ didn’t make the London Six Day – but then it’s not a real six day. But we did make Gent – great atmosphere, grim final. Kenny De Ketele & Moreno De Pauw went into the last chase two laps up – and came out two laps up.

Rotterdam next, just last week and the same pairing won but this time it was by four laps. Impressive on a sporting level but on an entertainment level – a nonentity. We hoped for more in Bremen and got it; a classic late lap gain victory from that man De Ketele partnered with home boy Theo Reinhardt. That’s better. . .

We hope you enjoy our opinions and pictures from Rotterdam and Bremen.

Achim Burkhart

We looked after Achim Burkhart at the Berlin and Copenhagen Six Days in 2017 where he was paired with countryman Nico Hesslich. Whilst they ‘got round’ there was no indication that Achim would be a ‘contender’ for this season. But we should have taken notice when he won the European Derny Championships. Second, with Yoeri Havik in the final standings in Bremen – for me, Achim is the most improved rider on the track.

Top track bike – Cervelo

Back ‘when I were a lad’ if you were a road pro and picked up six day contracts then the first thing you did was go to Masi in Milano or Banani in Copenhagen and get them to build you a ‘proper’ six day frame then spray it in your sponsor’s livery. The equivalent now is that spray up a Cervelo, the track bike of choice of many of today’s riders. They’re aero, strong and stiff – all prerequisites for the chases.

Rotterdam-Ahoy’1982-wielrennen-cycling-zesdaagse-sixdays- - archiefoto Cor Vos ©2005
Rene Pijnen and his Gazelle in Rotterdam

Back in the 70’s it was easy – ‘all Campag’. Seat pin, headset, chainset, pedals, hubs. Now there’s very little of the Vicenza company’s product on display. Shame.

Kenny De Ketele

Along with Iljo Keisse – whose road commitments with Quick-Step Floors limit his six day adventures – the most successful of the current crop of six day men is Kenny De Ketele. We make Bremen his 12th win off 70 starts. Kenny used to be a tad “physical” on the bike, those shoulders used to ‘bob’ with the pedals; not now, he’s silky smooth. At 32 years-of-age he has another seven or eight seasons in his legs.

Bremen has a show off the track

Grenoble used to be the six day for cabaret with acrobats, strongmen and dancers. Bremen has taken a leaf from their book and had a trio of seriously strong and agile men doing their thing.

Leif Lampater

Leif Lampater has been around the six day scene for a long time – his first wins came partnering Erik Zabel. He has nine wins off 85 starts. But being partnered with Zabel was a bit like riding with Iljo Keisse or Kenny De Ketele is nowadays, a huge boost before a wheel is turned. Still a very capable rider, he just doesn’t seem to crave wins the way the Belgians do.

The Dernys

A six needs Dernys, the fans love them – and every single one goes down to a sprint. And besides, where else would those Derny pilot dudes get their ego trips?

Moreno De Pauw

Moreno De Pauw seems to have been around for an age – but he’s only 26 years-old with Bremen his 20th start whilst Rotterdam was his sixth win. When you look at those spindly legs you wonder where all that flying lap speed comes from. He rode in Bremen with Lampater but a night of sickness for the German and consequent neutralization cost them all chance of a podium.

Rene Enders

Rene Enders has been around the sprint scene for 15 years with National, European and World titles in the team sprint. He also has two Olympic medals in the discipline and is the fastest man alive over one lap of a 250 meter track from a standing start. He chose Bremen to bid his tearful farewell.

Christian Grasmann

Christian Grasmann used to be a ‘make up the numbers’ guys. Not now, he’s hung on in there, built up his Maloca Pedal Pushers team and is now a ‘standard’ in the six days. He paired here with Jesper Morkov to take third place.

Steep track

The same length as Gent but with tighter corners and longer straights it’s a proper six day bowl. I didn’t have my angle finder with me but the race program tells me it’s 58 degrees. It takes the track builders just two days to shoehorn it in to the hall and it’s gone by the morning after the finale

Roger Kluge

Big Roger Kluge was in action in Rotterdam; an accomplished track rider, Giro stage winner and turbo powered lead out man, few look better on a track bike. When he used to partner Robert Bartko it looked like ‘Skynet,’ who manufactured The Terminator had gone into the six day business.

The Dutch sprinters

As with the German fans, the Dutch love to see the big dudes barreling round the track in flying laps, match sprints, keirins and team sprints. Watch for the Orangemen come the Worlds.

Our man Nico Hesslich’s dad is sprint legend, Lutz – multiple National, World and Olympic individual sprint champion. Partner, Roy Pieters dad, Peter won Paris-Tours and. . . this very six day in 1993 with Urs Freuler.

Hoogvliet - Nederland  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - stock - archief - archive - Rene Pijnen en Didi Dietrich Thurau - photo Cor Vos © 2015
Recordman Rene Pijnen with Didi Thurau

Race run continuously since 1965 with legends Palle Lykke (Denmark) and Rik van Steenbergen (Belgium) as first winners. Recordman: Rene Pijnen (The Netherlands) on seven wins. Four previous winners rode in 2018: Lampater (x2), Stroetinga, Grasmann and De Ketele.

Craziest hair in the race

Michele Scartezzini; the former Fiorenzuola summer six day winner has his quiff spring loaded – he takes off his helmet and, Boing!

Kirstin Wild

Towering over most all of her rivals, Kirstin Wild dominated the ladies’ racing. We just wish our Scottish lass, Katie Archibald had been here to make races out of processions.

Not all glamour

The speed, the whirlpool of color, the rapier sharp maneuvers – it’s all so glam. Have you ever been in the cabins?

Thought not. . .

Show time for Ed in Bremen with his new friend, Alphonso Williams

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 1,600 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.

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