The Gent Six, the second race on the Six Day racing calendar, started yesterday. I watched the Amsterdam Six, the first big Six Day race of the season thanks to the wonders of the internet recently. The event was broadcast live on Youtube.com. In HD even!
Allow me to humbly apologize to the cycling god’s for not being fully aware of exactly how exciting this event is and how how cool a week long race at a velodrome could be.
Some quick historical background. The first six day bicycle race was held sometime between 1889 and 1891 in New York City. The races then were grueling, single rider affairs. These non-stop events were not for racers lacking will and the demands were severe enough that in 1898 rules were passed to limiting the amount of time a single rider could spend on a bike. In order to circumvent this rule and keep the racing going for 24 hours, two man teams were used. And the modern Six Day race format was born.
The concept is pretty simple. There are events throughout the day. You can score points and take laps depending on the event. The overall winner at the end of the week is the team with the most laps. In the case of two or more teams ending on the same lap, the team with the most points wins the GC. Depending on the event points are awarded by finishing order or taking an intermediate sprint. The events used to run 24 hours a day but the modern Six Day event is run every evening until ‘round about midnight.
A preview of the Gent Six Day would not be complete without a review of the first big six day event of the year in Amsterdam.
Kenny De Ketele and Gijs Van Hoecke. These two gentlemen put on a show.
The two Belgians, who are the 2012 Madison World Champions, made their six day racing debut at the Amsterdam Six last year and they did not disappoint.
We will pick up the race on Thursday when things got very interesting. Last years winner Pim Ligthart and his teammate Marcel Kalz went on the offensive and claimed the lead with a one lap advantage. However, they only had 134 points to De Ketele and Van Hoecke’s 188.
How good is Pim Ligthart? Pim was signed by Lotto Belisol for upcoming road racing season and their management team has told him to do no more races and prepare for the spring classics. So don’t be surprised to hear his name in 2014.
But the highlight of the evening had to be the reigning Madison World Champions, Kenny De Ketele and Gijs Van Hoecke, who finished the day in second. Gils was apparently not fully prepared for his madison changeover with Kenny and as a result had his shoulder pulled out of the socket and dislocated!
So you had Pim and Kalz in white, De Ketele and Van Hoeke in pink, Lampater and Kreder (sprinters extraordinaire) in orange along with the blue and yellow team of Stöpler and Havik who were really driving the pace. The red and yellow team of Mouris and Stroetinga ended the day in fifth place. Other teams were taking bonus sprint points here and there but it was really a five team race by Thursday evening’s racing concluded.
Friday was about the Belgian team and the Madison changeover. Gijs was in agony, grimacing as he slung De Ketele into the race. Forced to be less aggressive due to the injury, they were still able to hold onto second place and led in points with 212 points, but gave up the lead on laps to Jens Mouris and Wim Stroetinga who took a lap but they were not leading on points with 208.
Saturday was bananas. It all came down to the final Madison. 48 minutes plus 50 laps of the 200m track with 5 intermediate sprints. Everyone BUT De Ketele and Van Hoeke were on the same lap. Once again, they had the lead in points with 246. With 40 laps to go they were STILL down a lap. Lampater and Kreder went to take a lap and took De Ketele and Van Hoeke chase. They have no choice. De Ketele and Van Hoeke are still a lap down. Lampater and Kreder on on the lead lap. Lampater and Kreder go a lap up and then into first overall on laps. De Ketele and Van Hoeke can’t afford to go two laps down so they chase. They both get a lap with about 17 or so laps to go. Then it happened. De Ketele and Van Hoeke go straight through the group over the top and take another lap on the field. A double. Then to assert their total dominance as THEE team to beat this season they win the Madison outright. It was crazy. Keep your eye on team Boretti in Orange and the Belgians in Pink.
Other highlights. The two lap time trial. Wild event. Tristan Marguet and Marc Hester won it. Every. Single. Night. Then set the track record for the event Saturday evening just to show everyone what time it was. Terribly impressive.
The Americans. Yeah, we were up in there. The Island 200 team of Dan Halloway and Guy East got themselves a win. Guy East won the Derny race on Day 5! It was nice to see. They are sponsored by the Island 200 Velodrome project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They also sponsored the awesome English language coverage of the event. It is good to see that America has not lost its love for indoor track racing. You will be hearing more about the Pittsburgh Velodrome project in the next few months as they are planning to open in 2014. A video of Guy’s win is below. Derny racing…strange stuff.
Alrighty then. Let’s do Gent!
Here is the list of starters:
1 Team Callant
Brisse Vivien – Kneisky Morgan
2 Team Renson- OPQS
Stroetinga Wim – Keisse Iljo
3 Team ADMB
Hester Marc – Irvine Martyn
4 Team Baloise
Van Hoecke Gijs – De Ketele Kenny
5 Team Eurotyre
Roberts Luke – Marvulli Franco
6 Team John Saey – Mega Doe-het-zelf Deschacht
Torres Albert – Muntaner David
7 Team Topsport Vlaanderen
Lampater Leif – De Buyst Jasper
8 Team AA Drink
Havik Yoeri – Stopler Nick
9 Team Lotto
Kalz Marcel – Bartko Robert
10 Team Provincie OOst-Vlaanderen
Graf Andreas – Grasmann Christian
11 Team VDK
Cocquyt Nicky – De Pauw Moreno
12 Team Caruur
Marguet Tristan – Dillier Silvan
13 Team Primus haacht
Imhof Claudio – Morkov Jesper
My obvious five star pick before the event De Ketele and Van Hoeke. They were just too impressive. Leif Lampater and Jasper De Buyst as well as Wim Stroetinga and Iljo Keisse also look good (Keisse has won the overall FOUR times since 2007 and is the local favorite). I thought the Lotto team of Marcel Kalz and Robert Bartko would be in the mix because Kalz was very good in Amsterdam. But that obviously has not worked out
Here is a link to the home page of the event:
Here is a link to the Amsterdam race if you want to get caught up. The entire event is online right now.
Coverage starts about 15 or so minutes into the video.
I would be remiss in my duties as a fan of Jempi Monsere if I did not mention that he won the Six Days of Gent with Patrick Sercu in 1970. Patrick and Jempi were both born in Roeselare, Belgium and one can only imagine how many Six Day titles they would have won as a duo. But as all things with Monsere, all we can do is dream…