6 Day Racing Interview with Andreas Muller
by Steve Penny
November 2007 (interview held during the Gent Six Day Race 2007)
Andreas Muller at Gent 2007
In the hard world of Six Day racing everybody knows about past and present champions such as Patrick Sercu, Rene Pijnen, Peter Post, Danny Clark, Tony Doyle, Ettiene De Wilde, Bruno Risi, Iljo Keisse, Robert Bartko etc. These riders during their particular eras will have been given contracts that enabled them to make a good living, one that may even rival there road contemporaries. But there is only one team of two riders that wins a Six Day race but the field is comprised of between 13 and 18 pairs depending on the size of the track. Most of the teams are riders who are not well paid, without major sponsorship and will just be trying to make a living albeit in a very hard way.
One such rider is 28 year old Berliner, Andreas Muller who with over 40 Six Day starts under his belt has in the last two years become a regular on the circuit. Andreas may be a rider that will never win a Six but he'll be a guy that will go from place to place with a different partner every time and race hard and safely for six nights. With safety a thing that should be foremost in any promoters mind this kind of rider is one that the top riders such as Risi, Marvulli, Stam, Keisse and Bartko will respect as they allow them to get on with the job of doing battle for the big prizes.
I sat down with Andreas for a short while during the Gent Six day in November 2007 to find out more about him and his career:
Steve Penny (SP): How did you get started in cycling and was it in the former East Berlin?
Andreas Muller (AM): Yeah, I was born in East Berlin but didn't start cycling until after the breakdown of the wall (1990), 4 years later actually. Before then I was only interested in moving around with friends, playing football, etc.
SP: Did you join a club?
AM: Yes, it was a very small club, but one with a long tradition not in only cycling but other sports and so it developed from just having fun, to racing and eventually becoming professional.
SP: Did you have any other ambitions or plans outside of cycling?
AM: I studied for one year at University but it was not possible to continue my studies with the commitment needed to be a cyclist. I was also in the army (National Service I assume ed.) where I continued with my sport (cycling).
SP: Did you ever spend time with the German National Track programme?
AM: Yeah I was involved for a number of years from 1998 when I was a junior and I continued to be involved until last year (2006).
SP: So what happened?
AM: Well it was agreed by both sides that I'd leave the National Track programme as I didn't have the results they or I wanted at World Championships or World Cups and I really like racing the Six days and wanted to do more.
SP: So when was your first professional Six Days, was it Berlin 2001? I was at that race.
AM: No, it was actually Stuttgart immediately before Berlin but you're correct, it was 2001 and Berlin was my 2nd start.
SP: So what do you do in the summer?
AM: When I was with the National team I did a lot of smaller stage races with the National Track team but for the last two years I've been doing mostly criteriums and just one or two stage and other small races. This year I was in Chicago and Milwaukee (USA) doing the International Cycling Classic which was a 17 day stage race around that area which was really good preparation for the Six Day season
SP: So how was the standard of racing?
AM: Yeah, it was good... other German pros recommended it to me as the stages are mostly about 100km and also there are criteriums, which were perfect for me.
SP: Did you have a team or a sponsor there?
AM: Well we had to pay our own flights and rent our own car but the gas rates are very good in the U.S., so we could handle the flight costs with the prize money that we won. I went with other German Six Day riders Christian Grasmann, Christian Lademann and Sebastian Frey.
SP: So you were self financed, that's impressive. So this season it seems like you have really broken through with contracts at all the Six Day races.
AM: Well last year was also good too as it was the first time I had contracts to ride Sixes outside of Germany, in Gent, Rotterdam, Copenhagen and Hasselt and I hope this year to do the same again. I will be in Zurich for sure.
SP: Do you think its helped that some of the older generation of German Six Day riders have or are due to retire which will help you get more contracts?
AM: Yes, but not only in Germany but in other countries. There is a new generation of riders trying to get rides, but yes it has given me a chance to really establish myself.
SP: So maybe in a few years you might get some strong partners?
AM: I hope so yes!!!
SP: Here in Gent you're with a young 21 year old Belgian (Tim Mertens) and you guys I think have been the surprise package of the race. The other young guys and some bigger names are a long way behind.
AM: Yeah, we are both also very surprised as we haven't lost that many laps overall. But from the first day we worked well together and we are both in good shape and so yes, we are both happy.
SP: And I guess Mr Sercu (the race Director) is happy too?
AM: Yes I think so!!!
SP: Before the race began did you have any plans or were you just there to look after Mertens?
AM: We didn't start with any plans no, but just to see how we'd go and I think it's been perfect for us.
SP: How about the life of a Six day rider, it's not a normal lifestyle is it?
AM: Well, my Six Day season started in Dortmund and the first days I always have a problem as I'm not getting to bed until after 3am and wake up at 10am. 6-7 hours of sleep is not enough, but after 4 days I am getting used to it and it's not a problem after the first days.
SP: So now you're a 'Man of the Night' or 'Mann van de Nacht' (that was the title of a Belgian book about Six Days ed.)?
AM: Yeah, it's always a problem when I get home to Berlin as everybody else has a normal body clock and no one wants to hang out with me all night (laughs).
SP: And so after nearly 40 Sixes do you think you're established and accepted by the top riders as part of the club?
AM: Yes, I feel accepted for 5 or 6 years I've been around. At first of course it was harder, but now they know me and I think we all have a good working relationship.
SP: We'll be seeing you throughout the rest of the Six Day season?
AM: Yes, as I said I have some contracts already for Zurich, Bremen, Stuttgart and Berlin and I hope to do as many as possible and stay healthy.
SP: You'll hope to go well in Berlin then?
AM: Yes, it's my favourite race. I'm from Berlin and I live in Berlin close to the velodrome so that's a big race for me. I'll hope to be racing there with Christian Grasmann.
SP: I'd expect Berlin to be your favourite but do you have another favourite Six Day race?
AM: Well... I like Gent, Bremen, Dortmund and Munich. I like it here (Gent) and Bremen as the smaller tracks suit me perfectly. Bremen has a big party atmosphere that is not really my thing, but here in Gent there is also a good atmosphere where everything is very familiar with the people around the place. It's all very friendly.
SP: Thanks Andreas... and we'll see you in Berlin!!!TOP