An Introduction to the 95th Edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen

by Steve Penny
British 6-Day Correspondent for TBCC's 6-Day Site
Watford, UK

the 95th edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen begins on Thursday 26 January, the event is the oldest existing Six Day race having first been held in 1909. It was held in almost every year, sometimes twice yearly, until 1934 when civil unrest followed by the start of WWII put a stop to proceedings.

The Sechstagerennen resumed again in 1949 and ran until 1990 (missing only 1989), and was actually held twice yearly for much of the 1950's and 60's. During this period the event's home for a long time was the Deutschland Halle in the Central Western District of Charlotteburg.

After the 1990 event the Deutschland Halle was demolished so the Sechstagerennen disappeared until 1997 when it was revived in the brand new Velodrome on Landsberger Allee (known as Lenin Allee during the East / West Division). Since 1997, and with its new permanent home, the Berliner Sechstagerennen has thrived and hosts an estimated 70,000 plus visitors each year. A large number of the visitors come from the former Eastern districts as although Berliners in general have always been track fans the Easterners (or Osti's as they are known) are thirsty having been starved of Six Day racing for decades.

The Landsberger Allee Velodrome is a large facility on two levels and with seats for approximately 5,000 but standing room for many more. The track itself is an international standard 250 metres long, 7.50 metres wide and has 13 to 45 degree banking. It hosted the 1999 World Championships and is also used throughout the year for concerts, displays etc.

As well as the normal Six Day format of madison's, points, elimination, time trial and derny races, the Berlin event also has an International Sprinters Cup. This normally consists of 4 or 5 German riders plus 1 or 2 from overseas; they all ride in a 1 lap time trial, a keirin race and a match sprint (normally 3 riders in each heat of the sprint). At the end of the Six Days the sprinter with the most points accumulated from all the individual races receives the overall Sprinter Cup.

Along with the Dortmunder Sechstagerennen, Berlin is the only Six Day that still has Stayer Racing. Each night the Stayers contest one 20 minute race with nightly points (for 1st - 7th) going towards an overall winner on the sixth day. Local rider Carsten Podlesch is very popular with the spectators and has won every year in the new Velodrome, except 2005 when he abandoned with illness.

Away from the track the Velodrome has the most concession stalls I have seen at a cycling event. Apart from the usual hot dogs and burgers you can buy sandwiches, pizza, pasta, soup, stew, french fries, peanuts, fruit salad, cakes and confectionary at various stalls. Beer is of course a mainstay with numerous bars dotted around the complex but unlike in Gent, for example, punters can also buy wine, champagne, (alcohol laced) fruit punch and spirits as well as soft drinks and coffee for the tee-total visitor.

Various cycle shops seem to transfer there entire operation to various points of the venue, you can buy anything from the latest carbon fibre bike to track mitts, shoe's, tools, shorts, summer and winter jerseys, jackets, helmets, energy bars etc. Many of these stalls are selling older team clothing at very reasonable prices.

Every company that is providing sponsorship to the Sechstagerennen have a stall or staff wandering around handing out promotional items such as pens, key rings, hats etc. Rather like the publicity caravan at the Tour De France but centred under one roof.

The Berlin Public Transport systems run 24 hours a day and they are also a key sponsor of the event. Anyone travelling too and from the Velodrome on buses, trams or metro / train can do so free if they are in possession of a Six Day ticket.

'Music and Show' also plays a big part in the Berliner Sechstagerennen with live acts performing (or miming!!!) in the track centre during breaks. These same acts will then perform a longer 'live' set in the 'Show Halle' which acts as a kind of disco-come-dance-hall for punters whilst racing is going on in the main arena.

An important part of crowd participation at the Berliner Sechstagerennen is a whistle!!! Once you are inside the building various sponsors have people handing out 'their corporate' whistle. The reason becomes apparent once racing starts because as soon as someone (anyone) goes off the front or contests a sprint, 10,000 plus people start blowing on their whistles. It is quite something to hear!!!

Although the 'Music and Show' side is of course very much part of German Six Day culture the audience at the Berliner Sechstagerennen are traditionally, first and foremost, there for the track racing. When madison's are being run every seat is taken and crowd participation is very much to the fore. Although Bremen hosts more spectators, the majority only attends that event for the beer, dancing etc. In contrast, Berlin prides itself on being very much about the sport too. This is highlighted with a Champions parade before the start of every days racing. All current World, Olympic, European, German or National Champions in any of the 3 fields come to the start line, under spot lights, wearing their respective Champions jersey and are introduced to the crowd. This takes place before the traditional introduction of the 18 teams.

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The 2006 Berliner Sechstagerennen

The 2006 field is perhaps not as strong as in recent years due to the absence with injury or illness of Bruno Risi - winner with Kurt Betschart in 2003 & 2005 - and Scott McGrory. A bonus however is that despite a recent illness, that caused him to scratch from the Bremen Six, Rolf Aldag - winner in 2001 and 2002 - is riding. This will be Aldag's last ever race of any kind before he takes up a managerial post with the T-Mobile team. He is paired with local favourite Robert Bartko, who is from Postdam just outside Berlin, and on paper they are the overwhelming favourites for victory. Being an Olympic and World Pursuit Champion Bartko suits a 250 metre track, although he does possess speed in a sprint too, and coming off the back of victory in Stuttgart (on the 285 metre track) his form and morale should be very good.

The organizations decision to pair Bartko and Aldag together caused some problems in Berlin as the other local favourite Guido Fulst - who had won in 2004 and been 2nd in 2005 with Bartko - was very disappointed when it was announced in December. Fulst made some comments to the local press that went down badly with the Berlin Six Day organisation and he was originally scratched from the start list. He has since been reinstated and rides with the up and coming Leif Lampater. This pairing look like a good outside bet and considering they have just won, alongside Bartko, in Stuttgart this proves that both are accomplished pursuiters and suit the bigger tracks. If you add to the mix that Fulst is a native Berliner and (maybe) has an axe to grind with the Sechstagerennen organisation they should be very motivated and are of course on top on form!!!

In contrast the current 2006 Six Day kings Slippens and Stam, having won in Rotterdam and Bremen, may not be as motivated as usual. If you add to this the fact that all their Six Days wins have been on tracks of 200 metres or less then perhaps they are in fact only an outside bet for the overall win, but are certainly potential podium finishers.

The Belgian duo Gilmore / Keisse have been going well in 2006 but may again be more of an each way bet as the 250 metre track is very different from the compact 166 metre Kuipke in Gent. Although looking at Stuttgart results and the absence of some top names they may still be up there, my feeling is that there next objective is February's new Belgian Six Day in Hasselt, so they may just be tuning form in Berlin.

Outside of these names it's difficult to see who the other potential challengers will be?

Marco Villa - winner with long time partner Silvio Martinello in 1998 and 2000 - is paired with Franco Marvulli who is without doubt a good rider. However Marvulli seems to lack the endurance, at this point in his career, to stay strong for a full six days although he always goes well in the time trials, points & elimination races.

Kurt Betschart who has never really raced without Bruno Risi is obviously a strong rider but is paired with up and coming Dutchman Peter Schep so the podium is a long shot for them.

Finally veteran Andreas (Andy) Kappes is back with his preferred partner Andreas (Andy) Beikrich for only the second time this season. They always seem to contend for the podium at German Six days, however taking into consideration Kappes turned 40 in December and has not raced in every Six Day event during 2005/2006 he appears, naturally, to be in decline. So perhaps in reality the bottom step of the podium may well be considered a good result for the two Andy's.

24/01/2006


The Riders

Jimmi Madsen | Robert Slippens | Iljo Keisse | Leif Lampater | Rene Wolf | Scott McCrory Technical Bits | Other Bits from Berlin
by Steve Penny, Watford, 03/02/2006

Auf Wiedersehen Rolf

The Berlin Sechstagerennen was the last ever race in the 15 year career of Rolf Aldag. He is fairly well known as a very strong domestique who has spent 13 years of his career in the magenta / pink of the Telekom / T-Mobile teams and has, probably, been their longest serving rider. He has ridden 10 Tour De Frances', gone well in the cobbled classics supporting Erik Zabel but also has a number of road wins himself including German Road Champion in 2000.

As well as racing on the road Aldag has ridden 27 Six-Day races during his career, winning 10. This includes 8 victories in Dortmund, a record he shares with Patrick Sercu no less, and he won 2 of his 3 rides in Berlin. Dortmund was traditionally his season finisher, as well as his home race, where he won on his final appearance of 2005 with his close friend and neighbour, teamate Erik Zabel.

Rolf was very much in demand in Berlin but I managed to get a few minutes of his time on Sunday afternoon. I asked him if it was a difficult decision to end his career, but he said, "No I'm ready and I actually received 4 good offers to continue but turned them all down". Rolf said that like many pro's he had been a regular winner as an amateur and in his first professional season had won 2 or 3 races but in time decided that he was not the fastest sprinter or a climber, so he concentrated on using his strength to work for the team. He also noted that in most years he had usually managed to get at least one win somewhere on the professional circuit.

We moved onto Six-Day Racing were the Dortmund Six has always been important to him, as its very close to his home. He also said that he was usually able to arrive in Dortmund in good condition, coming out of the road season. He said that "Berlin is a great Six-Days with a very appreciative public but unfortunately with it taking place at the end of January he was usually required to be somewhere else by his team. There are no easy rides on the track and you need a different mentality because someone is always passing you, on the road you can ride for long periods on the flat without anybody passing". On the track his choice of gears is "either 53 or 54 x 16 and peddling about 130 rpm" on the road he'll ride for hours in 53 x 11.

On the final night the organization put on a special farewell presentation for him with all the riders lined up holding there bikes up and spinning the front wheel (see photos). I think perhaps the only disappointment for him was the crash on the second night, that really left him in difficulty on Sunday he told me, "my knee still hurts" so I think we can take it that although he finished with a smile he was hurting all the way.

Rolf will begin working in the Communications Department of T-Mobile almost straight away.

Bye Bye to Jimmi too

Rolf Aldag was not the only rider to say farewell to Berlin. Danish Six-Day specialist Jimmi Madsen will also call time on his career at the end of this winters Six-Day season. Jimmi had a very successful spell riding with fellow Dane Jens Veggerby in the mid - late 90's, however, injury finished Veggerby's career and their partnership in early 1998. Since that time he has always been a good rider but has had no regular partner, although he won in Gent with Scott McGrory in 1999 and has had a couple of home wins in Copenhagen, his total victory haul of 9 from 120 starts does not really do a rider of his class justice.

I asked him about retiring and like Aldag he said "It was my decision. I decided two and a half years ago that I'd retire this year". He had no regrets about having no regular partner and felt that perhaps "if there was another Dane riding regularly on the circuit it may have been different, but having different partners everywhere makes it hard to get the understanding to challenge for wins". He did not say this in a bitter way more to say that he accepted it as the way things were.

When asked about his favourite Six-Days he said, "Of course Copenhagen is my favourite and special as it's my home race. Of the other six-days the crowds here in Berlin make it the best. They cheer for everyone which is not the case everywhere you race!!!". He is also confident that at least one or two of the up and coming Danish Six-Day riders Hester, Markov and Rasmussan can maintain the Danish tradition in the winter velodromes, "As long as they work hard and don't make any enemies they'll be ok". As for his next move he is not looking to work inside the sport "but may do something with bikes, and will continue to ride a little to keep the weight off"

All in all he seemed a very easy going laid back guy who will be missed on the circuit.

Robert Slippens

On Sunday Slippens and Stam were already going well, eventually going on to win the Berlin Six. On Sunday we had a brief chat about Six-Day racing, he said that "Rotterdam being the first win of the season and a home race was of course the highlight, Bremen was also good". Although like a lot of the riders he is impressed with the "public's support for all the riders here in Berlin", however he told me that "Munich was a big disappointment, we were leading but there was a lot of fighting in the final and Bartko / Zabel managed to get the lap and the win". I asked for his thoughts on the possible inclusion of new events in Maastricht and Zurich for next season? "It could be nice but I'll believe it when I see it" Finally we talked about the Worlds, "of course it's a big objective but the Worlds Madison is so difficult to control as its just one 50km race, so we'll try our best and that's all we can do".

Iljo Kiesse

I spoke to Gent winner Iljo Kiesse about some of the same things. Iljo said "I'm very happy, I've fulfilled all my 2005 objectives, a road win, the European Madison title and the Gent Six". As for his favourite Six-Days "Of course it's Gent, I'm from there and so it is my home race. Here in Berlin the public, the organization, the hotels and everything are really good, we are very well looked after, Rotterdam was good too especially the lights!!!" He also noted though that "Gent has the hardest programme, all the riders know that".

Like Robert Slippens, he has the Worlds as a big objective but his answer was the same "It's very difficult over one 50km race so we'll see". As for the rest of this Six Season Iljo will miss Copenhagen as he has raced all the four sixes this year with three days rest and has "been feeling sick for about 10 days and needs some rest". He is also keeping his feet on the ground as he is still "very young for a Six-Day rider" and is worried about "burn out by racing too much", he is generally happy but taking things as they come. We also talked about Belgium and the fact that "if you're a track rider they just say oh!!!, they want to see every rider on the road, including me" although he also said that he is lucky with his current team Chocolate Jacques because Patrick Sercu's son, Christophe, runs the team.

Leif Lampater

A rider that has had an impressive 2006 so far is Leif Lampater, I did read somewhere that Bruno Risi had tipped him for a big future and following a win in Stuttgart and 3rd place in Berlin, it looks like Bruno had it spot on. I got five minutes with him between races in Berlin.

Leif is from a town 15 kms from Stuttgart so that was his "main goal and home race" although he did say that he is also very motivated in Berlin with the "special public, and its Guido's (Fulst his partner) home race". At the Bordeaux Worlds his main goal will be the team pursuit but maybe also the points or Madison. He thinks that Germany will have a very strong Team Pursuit squad with Fulst and Bartko also riding.

Leif also does some road riding but "mainly with the National Track team in German stage races, also some criteriums but the road is not a big strength". As for next season he hopes to continue to progress and has ambition to ride in some of the other six days outside of Germany.

I hope so as I think we need to see some other talent get to ride in places like Gent. With Madsen going we need not just new talent but competitive riders over six full days.

Rene Wolf

The sprinters in Berlin always put on a show for the crowd this year was no exception, one of the main guys was Rene Wolf whom I caught up with him on Monday.

Like everyone (myself included) Rene noted "that the public are special here, in the Stuttgart Six day it was completely different, the crowd was dead!!!. We appreciate the crowd support and know we can't fool this knowledgeable crowd by arriving out of shape. Iin the former GDR, sprinting was very big". Rene's main goal is to "retain the World (sprint) title". He also noted that as sprinters don't get to race that often, Six-Day events are "a chance to test form and see were you are against your rivals". After finishing in Berlin he will leave for warm weather training with the German Track squad. He is also studying at University in his spare time!!!

Rene said that in Berlin he was riding on a 48 or 49 x 14 gear.

Scott McGrory

Scott McGrory was again absent in Berlin but I spoke to his close friend Erik Weispfennig who confirmed that Scott has again been ill with a mystery virus and has had no strength to even train. However, Scott is missing the scene and keeps in touch regularly with Erik to see what's happening in the races. His intention is too come back as he is motivated, but this is the 3rd year running that he has missed the January / Febuary Sixes, due to injury or illness. It may be difficult to get back to his form of old.

I certainly wish him well as he has always been a friendly and chatty rider with no inflated ego like one or two of his colleagues.

Some Technical bits

The majority of the Six-Day riders were racing on aluminium frames. Out of the thirty-six starters the only difference was five riders on full carbon fibre frames. Everyone rode with the now traditional carbon forks, although these varied between the straight and the curved style.

As for the gearing most riders have: 53 x 16 for Madisons, 52 x 13, 54 x 14 or 55 x 14 for the Derny races and 52 x 15 for the 1000 metre time trial (where each rider does 2 laps)

Other bits from Berlin

Among the noise, the beer, the (often dodgy) live music, the food, etc., the Berlin Six also takes time to introduce VIPs to the crowd.

On Tuesday night they had a presentation to CSC's breakaway specialist and former East German rider Jens Voight.(link pic) He was presented with a special trophy by the Berlin organization in recognition of his winning the 'German Rider of the Year Award'.

As I said in my preview, the crowd in Berlin really are something special and this was noted by all the riders I spoke to. Its almost as if they are kings for a week because of the crowds reception. Other Six-Days have crowds but they tend to only really get into it when local favourites or well liked riders such as Bruno Risi get on the attack. Here you could be 18 laps down and an unknown Czech but they'll still cheer and blow whistles for you.

Berlin really is a candidate for the title 'home of track racing'.


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REPORTS

DAY 4 | DAY 5
by Steve Penny, in Berlin

Day #6: Tuesday, January 31th
Slippens & Stam Have the Edge in Close Berlin Finish


The last night of the Berliner Sechstagerennen saw the final result come down to the very last sprint in front of a packed house of 11,000 plus in the Landsberger Allee Velodrome. With only a few points added here and there Marvulli/Villa started the 60 minute final madison still just 4 points ahead of Slippens/Stam with Fulst/Lampater still well placed just a handful of points back.

Almost straight away these top 3 teams plus the other 3 (Gilmore/Kiesse, Kappes/Biekirch & Aldag/Bartko) who are just 1 lap in arrears went off in 2's or 3's and got a lap but this provided little change to the standings. At various times Aldag/Bartko try and get that lap back to stand any chance in the final but its clear that Aldag just doesn't have the strength and power with which he is normally associated. On more than one occasion in the last couple of chases Bartko has got a gap but Aldag can't extend the advantage and gets pulled back. He his heavily bandaged having taken a heavy bang on his knee in a crash on Friday. This along with the fact he was ill and missed his start in Bremen shows he just doesn't have the condition or fitness to really challenge over such a hard six days. It is in fact a testament to his heart and determination that they have stayed in touch with the leaders, although you have too feel for Robert Bartko who is clearly in very good form here in Berlin.

With about 25 minutes to go in the final Marvulli/Villa look to be under pressure usually having to chase or react to moves rather than instigating them, Slippens/Stam however look strong. Coming into the final 50 laps with 4 bonus sprints every 10 laps, the top of the leader board remains as it was at the start of the race. In the first sprint Slippens outsprints Villa to draw level for the overall lead, in the second sprint Slippens beats Marvulli to take the lead by 4 6 points with 2 bonus' plus the final sprint to come. With 27 laps to go Fulst/Lampater launch a big attack as their only chance of the wins will be by getting a lap. Between them they don't have the speed to challenge Slippens or Marvulli for points. Roared and whistled on by the Berlin public they get 100 metres but no more than that and are clawed back in just before the 3rd sprint which Marvulli takes ahead of Slippens, to again level things up top of the leader board. In the 4th and final bonus sprint Slippens again gets it from Marvulli to again give the Dutch boys the lead but the Swiss/Italian combination can still get the win if they take the final sprint. With 250 to go Marvulli leads it out but Slippens comes around him in the final straight to give him and Stam their 3rd win from four Six Days in 2006.

FINAL RESULTS:
Slippens/Stam 221 pts
Marvulli/Villa 217 pts
Fulst/Lampater 181 pts
1 lap behind
Gilmore/Kiesse 167 pts
Kappes/Biekirch 140 pts
Aldag/Bartko 128pts
4 laps behind
Betschart/Schep 85 pts
5 laps behind
Bengsch/Weispfennig 115 pts
6 laps behind
Madsen/Hester 101 pts
Aeschbach/Grassman 71 pts
The rest are 18 plus laps back

Your correspondent was proved wrong in his preview because I suggested Slippens/Stam may not be motivated after earlier wins and that they had never won on a track over 200 metres long!!! Also a word on Marvulli/Villa... I also suggested Marvulli may not have the stamina for a hard fought six days in Germany but if anything he was the stronger of the two. The Berlin Six has fewer races in the programme as the points totals prove and so perhaps Franco was able to conserve some of the energy he normally uses getting points everywhere. I am also inclined to think that with Risi missing and Aldag not 100% they were able to impose themselves on the race more than usual. Fulst/Lampater generally went very well and it showed, as I suggested, that the 250 metre track suits them well, however the fact the neither rider really has a sprint was the difference as they could not challenge in the fast and furious last 50 laps and add points to their total.

In the Press Conference I asked them about the 'bigger track' win and Slippens said that "yes they were aware of that fact and that was part of the incentive", and of course they are in "good form and morale is excellent following Rotterdam & Bremen". He also said that "Berlin is such a big Six Day with a great public that also played a part".

As the main sponsor Schultheiss' team Aldag/Bartko also attended the press conference.

Sprinters:

The sprinter cup was won by man mountain Soren Lausberg in his farewell appearance here in his hometown Berlin. Up and coming 18 year old Maximilian Levy won the Kerien and could be one to watch in the coming years, Germany keeps bringing through good sprinters.

Final standing:
1. Soren Lausberg
2. Rene Wolf
3. Stefan Nimke

The final Stayer race saw Carsten Podlesch get the win and the overall Esso Stayer GP win, it was his 9th overall win in the competition in 10 Sechsagerennens at the Landsberger Allee Velodrome.

Final Standing:
1. Carsten Podlesch
2. Peter Jorg
3. Giuseppe Artenzi>


Day #5: Monday, January 30th
Penny drops in on Berliner Tage

Monday night is known as Berliner Tage (day) and saw another night of tough Madison racing that saw the overall result still very much within the grasp of six teams.

Tonight the first chase is over 30 minutes and as ever teams traded laps and attacks from the off with no quarter given or taken. With 7 minutes of racing to go Aldag & Bartko tried to rip the field apart but perhaps still feeling the effects of crashes on Friday were unable to get away following a strong chase by Gilmore/Kiesse. However, as soon as they were caught, Slippens/Stam made a classic counter followed by Marvulli/Villa, a surprising Betschart/Schep and lastly Gilmore/Kiesse. They all got the lap with 6 to go but only 3 teams carried on to the front, Betschart/Schep could only sit in the bunch. In the Sprint Slippens beat Villa by half a bike, this win saw them take the overall lead on points from Fulst/Lampater.

In the later 45 minute chase, the battle resumed and again Aldag/Bartko tried in the last 5 minutes, but were once again short of the necessary power, to get away from there rivals. Fulst/Lamapter went on the attack and with whistles screaching in our ears appeared to have enough gap to win the race but Marvulli went into overdrive and caught and passed Lamapter in the home straight for the win by a clear 5 metres.

This resulted in yet another change at the top the standings being:

Marvulli/Villa 177 pts
Slippens/Stam 173 pts
Fulst/Lampater 163 pts
1 lap behind
Gilmore/Kiesse 134 pts
Kappes/Biekirch 122 pts
Aldag/Bartko 110pts
2 laps behind
Betschart/Schep 81 pts

The Sprinters went faster in the flying lap, Soren Lausberg again winning but in 13.238 tonight. Stefan Nimke, usually a Kilo rider won the match sprints and Frenchman Mickael Bourgian won the Keirin.

The Stayers again saw a surprise with Timo Shulz holding off the field in a fast last 3 laps. Carsten Podlesch (Berlin) and Peter Jorg (Swiss) were trying so hard both actually blew up and lost contact with their pacers in the final 250 metres.


Day #4: Sunday, January 29th
No Lazy Sunday in Landsberger Allee Velodrome

Going in the Family / Kinder Tage (Children's / Family Day) things were close but Aldag & Bartko had both had crashes, so were not atop of the board, as might have been expected.

Sunday afternoon at the Berliner Sechstarennen saw an afternoon of hard Madison racing finish with the top teams still locked very close together and Tuesdays final outcome more difficult to predict than your correspondent initially thought!!!

The Berlin Six has its main focus on the two daily Madisons, there are a lot more breaks in racing than in Gent and so the top teams seem to conserve energy in the other races, only going full throttle in the chases.

The first 45 minute chase of the day was no exception with six or seven teams gaining laps but no team gaining a crucial lap. In the last 10 minutes however, Fulst/Lampater and Kiesse gained a lap with just 6 laps remaining. In the final 3 laps Kiesse took it on and went on the attack, not quite sure why though, as I assumed they would be stronger in the sprint. Fulst chased hard and on the final lap Lampater outsprinted Gilmore for the victory to roars of approval from the home crowd. At the end of the Madson not only had Fulst/Lampater won the chase but were now overall leaders by 1 lap.

The second Madison was run over 30 minutes and again was fast and furious. However, perhaps tired from the earlier exersions, no one seemed to have the edge to get the crucial lap. With 16 laps remaining Aldag and Kappes went off the front and whistled on by 12,000 plus fans, got the lap just 4 from home. They then went to the front and in a shoulder to shoulder sprint Bartko pipped Biekirch by inches for the win. It was important for both teams as they had fallen 2 laps behind the overall leaders and 1 lap behind the the other teams and so ended the day in the group of teams 1 lap in arrears. Thus at the eindstand of Sundays racing the leader board read:

Fulst/Lampater 138 points
1 lap behind
Slippens/Stam 138 points
Marvulli/Villa 135 pts
Gilmore/Kiesse 115 pts
Kappes/Biekirch 100 pts
Aldag/Bartko 93pts
2 laps behind
Betschart/Schep 73 pts
the next teams all 4 laps or many more, so out of the running.

The Sprinters as ever put on a show for the crowd although at this time of year and objectives being focused on Worlds success they are perhaps not in top shape. One guy who seems to be though is local boy Soren Lausberg in his last ever appearance here before retirement. He clocked the fastest time of the day (13.55) in the flying lap to take the applause.

The Stayers provided a surprise, as in recent years these races have been dominated by Carsten Podlesch (Berlin), Jan Richter (Cottbus) and Peter Jorg (Swiss). Today saw Swiss/Italian Artenzi take the bouquet and despite not being the local boy was, in true Berliner Sechstagerennen style, still cheered on by the crowd.


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The Stayers & Pacers

by Steve Penny, Watford, 01/02/2006, 23:30p.m.

The Stayers

The Berlin Six has a tradition, only know shared in Dortmund, of having Stayer Racing. This style of racing along with Derny and other Motor-Paced racing was a lot more common in the 50's, 60's and 70's with World Championship's being held for both amateur and professional riders.

Today Stayer racing is very much a specialist side of cycling with very little publicity or media attention. During the Berlin Sechstagerennen I caught up with one of the sports top riders, local favourite and 9 time winner in Berlin Carsten Podlesch.

Carsten's family are involved in the pacing side of the sport in fact his Uncle Karsten Podlesch was one of the Motor Pacers here in Berlin, so it was a normal thing for him to become involved. Although the Berlin and Dortmund Six are good opportunities for Stayers to perform in front of big crowds the scene does in fact consist of a lot of races in (mainly) Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. Carsten races at between 30 or 40 Stayer meeting during the summer months and is fully professional. He has also spent time on the Road with Team Weisenhof but now races for an individual sponsor, he says this is general way of things for Stayers. He does also take part in smaller road and criterium races around Germany when he is not behind the Motors.

The Stayer meetings are usually on bigger outdoor tracks and all races are run for prize money as well as a percentage of gate receipts. This along with the sponsorship fee makes Carsten think that he can make a better living and race more than a 'normal' endurance track specialist, although he added that the sport gets no national funding as Olympic cycling disciplines do.

The Stayer bikes are very different from other track bikes with a 24" front wheel and the riders requiring extra saddle support (see picture) as they ride in a very forward and upright position. All the frames are still made from Steel and the riders push a massive 66 x 16 gear on a 250 metre track and as much as 68 x 14 on the bigger outdoor tracks. Despite the gears turned all of the Stayer riders are surprisingly slight in stature.

Carsten finished off the Six day with his 9th win in 10 attempts at the Berlin Velodrome and clearly enjoyed the support of 'his public' and managing to take centre stage for 20 minutes Six Nights a year, roll on 2007!!!

Pacers

One of the most recognisable Motor Pacers is Dutchman Bruno Walrave. Bruno received a special award in Berlin to commemorate his 50 years pacing riders in all areas of motor pacing. He can be seen at all the winter Sixes doing battle in the Derny racing and also has a full time living with Stayers in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Bruno has paced many of the greats of the sport who in bygone days raced in all forms of cycling from tours to sixes to derny paced road races such as Paris-Bordeux. He also paced many riders, including Carsten Podlesch, to World Stayer / Motor Paced Championships before they were abolished. He was also responsible in the early seventies for challenging the establishment and getting full workers rights, freedom of contract etc for cyclists and pacers alike, this involved pacers to pace riders of a different nationality at World Championships. He says that he is still unpopular in some circles for this.

Bruno Walrave seemed a very amiable man and said he has no plans to retire and why would doing what you love for 50 years and still going strong can't be a bad way to make a living, can it?

One last note whilst speaking of pacers, the hero of the Gent Six Derny races Joop Ziljaard had a heart attack late last year. I asked Bruno how he was and the news was that that he is recovering and hopes to come back to racing. Before that can happen though Joop has been told he needs to lose a lot of weight and make some serious lifestyle changes. We wish him well and hope to see him once again flying around 'Het Kuipke' urging his rider on.

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