An Introduction to the 99th Edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen

by Steve Penny
24 January 2010

Six Day racing comes to Berlin for the 99th time on Thursday 28th January 2010 with the great tradition of winter track racing in Germany in a major crisis. The 83 year old Dortmund Six was cancelled last November, the Stuttgart Six disappeared from the calendar last January and the widely acknowledged blue riband Six Day race in Munich looks like it may have seen it's last edition in November. The Bremen six day party is still running and no rumours of cancellation surround it but the crowds are certainly down. The biggest problem though, apart from ticket sales, is attracting sponsorship. A Six Day race needs a major lead sponsor plus medium and small sponsorship to support the race prizes and teams. All go toward funding an event but it's the attracting of major sponsors, turned off cycle racing following doping scandals, that's proving to be the biggest problem for organisers.

As a visitor to the Berlin Six since 2000 I had always imagined that everything was hunky dory in the united German capital city. Crowds come in, there is 'local' glitz and glamour in the show areas and the sporting spectacle is cheered and whistled in the uniquely Berlin way by over 10,000 people each and every night. As with many things in life though looks can be deceiving and sources had relayed to me some months ago that the organisation where having trouble getting the sponsors and selling tickets. There are of course still bums on seats but an unknown percentage of them are courtesy of complimentary tickets that have been given away as an incentive to the aforementioned ever decreasing sponsors. With its 100th anniversary approaching in 2011 these are troubling times for Berlin and the Six Day world.

The 2010 Edition

The economic position of the Berlin Six has caused the most surprising story to come out of the closed walls of Six Day racing this winter because the Swiss rider Bruno Risi will not start in what was expected to be his German grand finale. The news is that 3 time Berlin winner Risi was only offered half of what he is normally paid to race in Berlin, was insulted, and therefore turned down the contract. With over 185 starts and 62 wins, Bruno is probably the last great Six Day rider who'll ever make his fame and fortune riding around the worlds velodrome's and it really is shame that he will not ride on a big stage one last time. Copenhagen will be his last Six but with all due respect to that event its scale is a long way down market from the noise and excitement created at Berlins Landsberger Allee velodrome. There are only 17 rather than the normal 18 teams on the start line and that suggested there was a place being left open but there would appear to be no change in heart on the part of Risi, his fee is his fee plain and simple.

Top Teams

Without Risi the list of favourites looks even thinner than it has in recent years. His erstwhile partner for around 20 wins Franco Marvulli, including last week in Bremen, will now team with fellow Swiss veteran Alex Aeschbach. All round nice guy and Stuttgart resident, Aeschbach, is a good rider in his own right and will relish the opportunity to ride with his friend Marvulli. The 'marvellous Marvulli' loves the Berlin Six and has 4 wins already this winter. But the 2nd choice Swiss team will probably only be contending for a podium place rather than the win outright next Tuesday night.

The favourites on paper are the, winners of the Amsterdam Six and European Madison Champions, German duo Robert Bartko and Roger Kluge. Bartko himself has had 'contract' problems with the organisers in the past and didn't ride in 2008. However being from just down the road in Potsdam, this is Bartkos home race and he returned to take the win everyone wanted to see last year, with the retiring Erik Zabel. The 23 year old Kluge is a very strong rider though and with a contract to ride the roads with the Pro-tour Milram team for 2010 in his pocket he'll be looking to say 'auf wiedersehen' to track racing, for the time being at least, with a win in his capital city. The pursuit strength of Bartko and the speed of Kluge appear to offer a winning combination on the larger 250 metre track.

The main challengers to the German combo appear to be World Madison Champs Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen, who had an excellent if somewhat long 2009 season racing both the road and track. It was there first season in the Pro-tour with Saxo-Bank and took gold medals at the Worlds in the Madison and Team Pursuit. They capped the year off with a victory in the Ghent Six. That victory, their first in a 'classic' of the Six Day calendar, was one of the most exciting finishes anyone that witnessed it in Ghent's 'Het Kuipke' could ever wish to see. The Danes have gone close a couple of times in Berlin and like Bartko / Kluge they are a classic Six Day pair with the endurance strength of Morkov and the sprint speed of Rasmussen. If this one goes all the way to the last couple of bonus sprints, it will be difficult for anyone to beat Rasmussen. However, with the Copenhagen Six starting a few days later and sponsorship obligations to fulfil back home they might have to hold a little back.

Other Challengers

With the rest of the field being a little thin on favourites, perennial Six Day strong man Danny Stam will be close to the front next Tuesday, alongside his stylish countryman Peter Schep. This pair is without a natural sprint though and may find it hard to clock up enough points to challenge the top German and Danish teams. They'll be in the race though.

The only other team who may have any chance at upstaging the top two are Leif Lampater and Christian Grasmann. The Stuttgart rider Lampater won in 2007 and this season has formed a useful paring at a few Sixes with Christian Grasmann. They have had a couple of podium places at (a weak) Zurich, Bremen and following crashes in Munich. The Bavarian Grasmann at 29 is not a youngster but has so far not been given the chance by promoters to ride with a strong partner or in many Sixes outside of Germany. He has clearly shown he can cut it at a higher level, but 3rd at a lap or 2 down is still a large step away from winning a tough Six Day race and it'd probably take illness or injury to the top teams for them to be victorious.

Elsewhere

With Iljo Keisse now riding the road with Quick-Step it is left to Kenny De Ketele to represent Belgium across the border. The 24 year old from the cycling hotbed of Oudenaarde in East Flanders has shown well whenever he's given the chance to race with top partners. His style makes him look like he is fighting with his bike but this style also shows the fans he's giving everything he has, and I'm sure he'll be doing the same in Berlin. The Berlin organisation has not really noticed him too much though, as for the last two years they've put the wrong photo next to his entry in the official programme!!! This year he rides with a German on the wane, Andreas Beikirch. With close to 120 starts behind him the North-Rhine based pro had a heavy fall in Bremen last winter and has not been present at many Sixes since. When he has the results and his partners have been low key. The loss of form may be due to the effects of that crash but could be just old father time catching up on a guy soon to turn 40. He and De Ketele rode to 3rd in Ghent in 2008 but the chemistry between the pair wasn't there and this may be a case of just picking up a pay cheque and finishing somewhere between 5th and 8th for these two this week. A shame for Kenny though, with this field he could have been close to the podium with a stronger partner.

The surprise team of last years race were Berlin based Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz. The youngish pair aged 26 and 22 respectively where noticeably encouraged throughout by there local team coach, and Berlin Sports Director, Dieter Stein, and showed well right up until the last night when they understandably tired, eventually finishing 6th. There remit will be to show well again in front of the home town crowd, though beating last years result may be a tough ask.

Another Berliner in the field is Andreas Muller, although he now represents Austria!!! He won a bronze medal for them in the 2009 Worlds Scratch race but was born, raised and lives just a stones throw from the velodrome. He'll pair with Leipzig's Erik Mohs, who just a couple of years ago formed what looked to be good new partnership with Andreas Beikirch. As with many modern young riders, though Mohs saw his future on the road so has not ridden many Sixes since, but has not yet broken into the Pro-tour on the road either. They should form a solid team but upper-middle of the field at best will be there target.

There are no other obvious riders to watch really, although the Swiss newcomer Tristan Marguet seems to be a talent and has had a number of starts this winter. Also Marcel Barth and Tino Thomel have represented Germany at some of the World Cup events, but both are still novices and just cutting there teeth in the frenetic world of Six Day racing. There are also at least a couple of teams of riders racing their first ever Six Day races.

Start List:

Team 1 Leif Lampater (Ger) - Christian Grasmann (Ger)
Team 2 Alex Aeschbach (Sw) - Franco Marvulli (Sw)
Team 3 Robert Bartko (Ger) - Roger Kluge (Ger)
Team 4 Alex Rasmussen (Den) - Michael Morkov (Den)
Team 5 Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - Kenny de Ketele (Bel)
Team 6 Andreas Muller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger)
Team 7 Danny Stam (Ned) - Peter Schep (Ned)
Team 8 Marcel Barth (Ger) - Sebastian Siedler (Ger)
Team 9 Robert Bengsch (Ger) - Marcel Kalz (Ger)
Team 10 Daniel Musiol (Ger) - Karl-Christian Konig (Ger)
Team 11 Milan Kadlec (Cz) - Tristan Marguet (Sw)
Team 12 Tino Thomel (Ger) - Marc Hester (Den)
Team 13 Thomas Juhas (Ger) - Theo Reinhardt (Ger)
Team 14 Christian Bach (Ger) - Henning Bommel (Ger)
Team 15 Bastian Faltin (Ger) - Jan-Moritz Muller (Ger)
Team 16 Alois Kankovsky (Cz) - Petr Lazar (Cz)
Team 17 Alexej Shmidt (Rus) - Sergej Kolesnikow (Rus)

2009/2010 Six Day Season:

Amsterdam Bartko / Kluge (Ger)
Grenoble Marvulli (Sw) / Roberts (Aus)
Munich Risi / Marvulli (Swi)
Ghent Rasmussen / Morkov (Den)
Apeldoorn (Ned) Bartko (Ger) / Van Bon / Ligthart (Ned)
Zurich Risi / Marvulli (Swi)
Rotterdam Stam (Ned) / Keisse (Bel)
Bremen Risi / Marvulli (Swi)

Stayers and Sprinters

Berlin always gives the Stayer (Steher in German or motor paced) racers and match Sprinters some well deserved spotlight, giving spectators a chance to enjoy almost all the traditional forms of track racing... the exception being the long removed tandem!!!

The Stehers race for 20 minutes every night behind the big motors and this is one of just 2 Six Day races that give them a chance to shine, the other being Zurich. The former spiritual home of the Stehers was Dortmund's Westfalenhallen (the arena that was home to the Six Day etc). But in 2009 not only was the Dortmund Six cancelled but after 72 editions the Boxing Day 'Grosser Weihnachtspreis' (considered the unofficial Steher World Championship) also sadly fell by the wayside. So this small band of specialists and pacers plug away on the large outdoor tracks during the summer months around Germany, as well as occasionally in Switzerland and Holland, in front of small but knowledgeable crowds.

The Berlin favourite will be last year's winner Timo Scholz from Leipzig. He'll lock horns with Swiss Stehers Giuseppe Atzeni and Peter Jorg, who won in Zurich, as well as local veteran Mario Vonhof.

The sprinters will line up to race a Flying Lap, a Match Sprint and the Team Sprint each and every night. One show will be two reigning German World Champions, kilo veteran Stefan Nike and the Kieran king Maximilian Levy. The 22 year old Levy from Berlin is certainly a talent on the rise who fulfilled his obvious potential last March in Poland. He was also part of the German Team that took a Team sprint bronze at the Beijing Olympics with Nimke and Rene Enders. Germany has always been a strong nation for sprinters, especially in the old East where many of the spectators come from. The big and broad men of cycling will look to put on a show whilst looking to tune form and get some competition in before the World Championships in Copenhagen.


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Berliner Sechstagerennen - Thursday & Friday

by Steve Penny
30 January 2010

Despite (the already) reported problems with sponsors, the disappointing absence of the retiring Bruno Risi and freezing ice and snow here in Berlin, big crowds have been coming through the doors of the Landsberger Allee Velodrome. The oldest Six Day on the calendar, in this its 99th edition, has already welcomed around 25,000 visitors on Thursday and Friday nights. The Saturday is the traditional big 'Golden Night' and a full house is expected to witness the annual track cycling spectacular in the German capital.

The story so far:

The Berlin race programme is a lot shorter than it was just a couple of years ago (and this is without the event coming on the back of the now defunct Stuttgart Six) and on the championship size 250 metre track lap gains are not as easy to come by as they are on a 166 metre track like in Gent for example. Despite this the opening exchanges have seen, as expected, a few teams pulling away at the top of the standings and after 2 nights the favourites Robert Bartko & Roger Kluge are sitting on top of the leader board. The 'Ro Ro Express' as they are being called locally have a commanding 36 point lead over Dutchmen Danny Stam & Peter Schep before Saturdays racing. As noted in my preview the Berlin pairing of Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz had a good start to last year's race and have again come out of the blocks well and are the only other team on zero laps.

In 4th at 1 lap are World Madison Champions and winners of the Gent Six, Morkov & Rasmussen. The Danes won't be unduly worried as they are capable of gaining points and with a bit more experience behind them now they might just be conserving energy for a big push over the next days. Franco Marvulli will have to get used to life without Bruno Risi and he and Alex Aeschbach are in a decent position just 1 lap down. Two other teams are also at 1 lap, Leif Lampater & Christian Grasmann and a with a good showing so far Berlin born Austrian Andreas Muller and Erik Mohs. The young Mohs has made a return to the track this winter representing Germany at some of the World Cup events, and if he has the commitment to the track most certainly has the talent. In 8th place are Kenny De Ketele and Andreas Beikirch at 2 laps. The 39 year old Beikirch is racing his 118th and last Six Day race. After a heavy fall in Bremen last January, he has not returned to his old form so will say Auf Weidersehen to the appreciative Berlin public and Six Day racing over the next few days.

Standings at 01.00 29 January 2010:

Bartko (Ger) - Kluge (Ger) 102 points
Stam - Schep (Ned) 66
Bengsch - Kalz (Ger) 61
@ 1 lap
Rasmussen - Morkov (Den) 75 points
Aeschbach - Marvulli (Switz) 62
Lampater - Grasmann (Ger) 57
Muller (Aut) - Mohs (Ger) 34
@ 2 laps
Beikirch (Ger) - De Ketele (Bel) 36 points
@ 3 laps
Barth - Siedler (Ger) 13 points


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Golden Night at the 99th Berliner Sechstagerennen

by Steve Penny
30/31 January 2010

'Ro Ro Express' Roll On But 'Danish Dynamite' Ready to Explode!!!

The weather is freezing outdoors so what better way to spend such a night than inside a packed velodrome watching the oldest Six Day race in the world. The arena is as always is buzzing to the sound of thousands of whistles and the middle of the road German pop music from the speakers only enhances the atmosphere and confirms Berlin is alive and well as the riders set off on their Saturday night race to nowhere.

After a leg stretching point's race at 19:50, the riders are quite surprisingly straight into the first Madison of the night, racing for 30 minutes. With it being so early no one really goes for it although Marvulli/Aeschbach and Muller/Mohs gain a lap back and this pair of teams came into the last few laps' bonus sprints neck and neck. One of the surprise teams so far Muller/Mohs stayed close to the front and the 23 year old Mohs came over the top on the last bend to confirm his good form and take the night's first bouquet. The more experienced of the two is Andreas Muller a Berlin born track specialist who now represents Austria. He has worked hard over the last few years to establish himself on the Six Day circuit without ever showing well in the overall standings. He was happy tonight though as he punched the air in delight taking what may well be his first ever win in a six day chase on this his local track.

Another pair showing well on their home track is Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz who took the evening's main Derny race. The Devil Takes the Hindmost (or Elimination) race came down to a two up sprint between Marvulli and Rasmussen. This won't be the last time the two fastest guys on the track will do battle for points but this time the Dane had to concede to the ever popular showman Swiss-Italian, Marvulli, who took the 20 points.

During the intervals the show bands play and punters wander around the outer arena picking up free bees from sponsors stalls, buy a beer or a punch, pasta, pretzel or hot dogs or spend time eyeing up the latest bikes, equipment or kit that local dealers have on sale. Also during the break I spotted Robert Bartko warming up on the rollers, first time I've seen that at a Six, and it confirms how short the actual Six Day programme here in Berlin now is. Riders used to appreciate any break at a Six, but 70 minutes does seem rather too much.

By the start of the nights big 45 minute Madison, Rasmussen/Morkov had moved up into 2nd place having gained a bonus lap. In 3rd, but just a few points short of their bonus lap and the overall lead, is Marvulli/Aeschbach who up to this point had been having a good night. As the main teams traded laps during an eye balls out chase, Marvulli made an audacious but ultimately fruitless, and costly, attempt at a crowd pleasing double lap. He probably should have stayed in the bunch because soon after they were caught Bartko/Kluge, Stam/Schep, Rasmussen/Morkov and Lampater/Grasmann made the move, with about 8 minutes to go, that took these 4 teams clear. The Danish dynamite took the win as Morkov went for a bit of showboating himself, raising his arms a good few metres before the line... and was nearly caught by the fast finishing Bartko. Althought they lost a bonus lap, it was a good chase for Stam/Schep, who are close to the lead. Their lack of points may well mean they can't win this Six though, but they'll try for sure.

The big losers in the chase were Muller/Mohs, who probably aid for their efforts in the first chase, and Bengsh/Kalz as both teams slipped to a lap behind. They are in the race though and will probably fight it out with another German team Lampater/Grasmann for 5th, 6th and 7th place over the next few days.

The crowd was as ever into the chase and resident Six Days DJ Pete Traynor (from my hometown of Liverpool) was enjoying himself too taking any lovers of Rock 'n' Roll on a vintage trip down memory lane during a particular lull in the action. A group of Danes in the VIP seats seemed to especially appreciate this selection and shaked, rattled and rolled away uninhibited!!!

The only other race of any real consequence tonight was the 1,000 metre time trial won by Bartko/Kluge in 55.279 from Rasmussen/Morkov in 55.726. Aeschbach/Marvulli conceded over a second, but were still no slouches in 56.634.

Standings at End of Saturdays Racing:

Robert Bartko (Ger) - Roger Kluge (Ger) 162 points
Alex Rasmussen - Michael Morkov (Den) 141
Alex Aeschbach - Franco Marvulli (Switz) 113
Danny Stam (Ned) - Peter Schep (Ned) 91
@ 1
Leif Lampater - Christian Grasmann (Ger) 92
Robert Bengsch (Ger) - Marcel Kalz (Ger) 82
Andreas Muller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger) 57
@ 3 laps:
Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - K De Ketele (Bel) 49 points

Special Guest

In the house tonight for a fun challenge 500 metre pursuit match against a guy on a heavy old butcher/grocers delivery style bike, was Jens Voigt. This is apparently a re-match of something that was first done on German TV, the challenge being for Jens to race on his road bike in 'training shoes' (sneakers). A fit looking Voigt lost the original challenge and was bested in this one too, but not by much. I'm sure he won't lose any sleep over it though. The crowd enjoyed it.

Voigt is of course a hard man of the road who started out on his amateur career right here in Berlin. He has been a regular visitor to the local Six Day in recent years, being presented to the fans as the German Cyclist of the Year. This year the award went to Tony Martin of team Columbia High Road who was here on Friday. Now 38 years old Jens cut his teeth in the pro ranks with the ZVVZ-Giant-AIS Team in 1997 before going on to win Tour De France and Giro stages as well as numerous other races with Credit Agricole and CSC / Saxo-Bank his current team. He is famed for his never say die attitude while racing, as well as his use of Australian slang when speaking English!!!

Unfortunately, due to my heavy cold, I didn't get a chance to speak to him, as the last thing any pro wants is to report back to team duties having picked up the flu from an outside engagement.


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Berliner Sechstagerennen - Family Day

by Steve Penny
31 February 2010

The Sunday at German Sixes has traditionally been Family Day (Familientag) when the riders and fans get up early for an afternoon session. The idea I'm sure is that the children of today are the fans of tomorrow in the same way that supporting football teams or following sports is passed on to youngsters by parents around the world.

Dutch Boys Make There Move in Berlin

The customary leg warming point's race got underway at 12:35pm local time and was followed by a round of crowd pleasing Derny racing that was won by Stam/Schep. The big race of the day though was the 45 minute Madison, a race the top boys would normally focus on with the leader board being a little closer than it appeared to be 24 hours ago. Unfortunately a crash involving Alex Rasmussen took some of the shine off the chase as the main players backed off a little. This allowed 3 teams to slip away Lampater/Grasmann, Muller/Mohs and Beikirch/De Ketele and it was the later pair that held on for the retiring Beikirch to take a popular and probably last ever Six Day Madison win. The lull in action allowed Lampater/Grasmann to go a full lap clear of the field having also gained a bonus lap for passing 100 points. Stam/Schep joined them at the top of the leader board having also taken a bonus lap. As well as a crash for Rasmussen, his partner Morkov is riding with a heavily strapped leg (looks to be supporting his knee) which is not a good sign after they'd made their move last night.

There was a chance for the lesser lights to shine in the Team Elimination Race and the 'other' Dane in the field Marc Hester won alongside young Berliner Tino Thomel.

The big guns had kept their powder dry for the 30 minute Madison which was an opportunity for Bartko/Kluge to re-establish themselves atop the leader board after being quiet in the earlier chase. Although they had a good race the German team had to settle for second place behind an impressive Danny Stam and Peter Schep. The Dutch team have not taken big points throughout the Six but have been creeping up the standings and for the time being at least, have the lead. To win this Six Day on Tuesday they'll have to have a full lap gain on the field but after winning the Rotterdam Six (with Iljo Keisse) the 37 year old Stam seems to have the form, not to mention plenty of fight left in him.

The other big movers have been Leif Lampater and Christian Grasmann and I admit I got it wrong last night when I suggested they'd be in a fight for 5th-7th. They've obviously kept some gas in the tank and Lampater especially looks strong and this new team are now in with a shout at the podium or even the win!!! Muller/Mohs are hanging on at 2 laps down but as expected Bengsch/Kalz have faded, although a bit more than they'd have liked, and are now a distant 4 laps behind. The race favourites Bartko/Kluge should have their bonus lap soon but they have not dominated the racing this weekend by any means.

Standings at close on Sunday:

Danny Stam - Peter Schep (Ned) 133 points
Leif Lampater - Christian Grasmann (Ger) 120
@ 1 lap:
Robert Bartko - Roger Kluge (Ger) 182
Alex Rasmussen - Michael Morkov (Den) 159
Alex Aeschbach - Franco Marvulli (Switz) 143
@ 2 laps
Andreas Muller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger) 76
@4 laps:
Robert Bengsch - Marcel Kalz (Ger) 91
Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - K De Ketele (Bel) 74
The rest are down 12 laps or more.

Special Guest - Erik Zabel

The VIP guest today was a fit looking Erik Zabel who does not appear to have put on any weight since his retirement after this event last year. The Berlin born rider was probably the only (and possibly the last) big road star to come indoors in recent years and was a regular at the Dortmund and Munich Sixes throughout his career. He is now working for his long time teammate and friend Rolf Aldag at Team Columbia. The lanky Aldag was himself another roadman who always went to the Dortmund Six, winning there in 2004 with Scott McGrory. The 39 year old Zabel is employed almost exclusively to work with sprinter Mark Cavendish and will aim to engineer another Milan-San Remo win for the Brit in a race that alongside the Tour was his speciality.

Sprinters & Stehers

The sprinters have been in action over the last few days and World Keirin Camp Maximilian Levy has been tuning form for his Championships defence at the head of the field. He will race the Keirin, Sprint and Team Sprint in Copenhagen and will need to be on top of his game for battle in Ballerup with the French, British and Australian fast men.

Like the sprinters, the Stehers (motor paced racers) get a rare chance to ride in front of large and appreciative crowds here in Berlin. The king thus far is Leipziger Timo Scholz, who has had the better of Swiss Peter Jorg, Mario Vonhof (the reigning German Steher champ and former 6 Day rider) and Giuseppe Atzeni. The Swiss-Italian Atzeni is the European champion, which is the biggest prize in 'Steher' racing since the UCI scrapped it as a World Championship event back in 1994.


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Berlin Night at the 99th Berliner Sechstagerennen

by Steve Penny
2 February 2010

Dutch Still in Control

Monday night is known as Berlin Night, but last night evidence was more like Holland Night, as the Dutch boys Stam and Schep stamped their authority on the Berlin Six.

The German favourites Bartko/Kluge appeared to be back on track and won the nights big 45 minute chase after a great final sprint between Bartko and Morkov. They also took the 1,000 metre Time Trial in under 56 seconds. With the point gains had another bonus lap and they'd re-taken the lead. The Danes Rasmussen/Morkov where 2nd in both those races and had also taken their bonus lap so the two way fight for the top honours appeared to be back on. The underrated Dutchmen had other ideas though and during the 2nd shorter 30 minute Madison they slipped away with Mohs/Muller and Bengsch/Kalz, who took a crowd pleasing win, to once again take a clear lap lead going into the final night.

The big losers where Lampater/Grasmann who after being a lap ahead with Stam/Schep after Sundays session lost a lap in each on Mondays chases and they are now out of the running. Marvulli/Aeschbach although close to a bonus lap now have way too much to do to win this Six and will most likely have to settle for a place off the podium.

Standings at close on Monday:

Danny Stam - Peter Schep (Ned) 161 points
@ 1 lap:
Robert Bartko - Roger Kluge (Ger) 246
Alex Rasmussen - Michael Morkov (Den) 223
@ 2 laps
Alex Aeschbach - Franco Marvulli (Switz) 182
Leif Lampater - Christian Grasmann (Ger) 148
Andreas Muller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger) 112
@4 laps:
Robert Bengsch - Marcel Kalz (Ger) 130
@ 7 laps
Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - K De Ketele (Bel) 77


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'Finale' of the 99th Berliner Sechstagerennen

by Steve Penny
3 February 2010

Going into the final nights racing the Dutch pair Danny Stam and Peter Schep held a clear one lap lead over the local favourites Robert Bartko and Roger Kluge. Bartko is heavily bandaged on his arm and leg after a fall and without taking anything away from the Dutchmen it might explain why the Germans lost another lap yesterday. That said, maybe Stam/Schep are just going really well. In 3rd. were the World Madison Champs Rasmussen and Morkov.

With points being of no importance to the Lowlanders, Stam/Schep, it remained to be seen if Bartko/Kluge and Rasmussen/Morkov wanted to chase points in the nights other events. The 'Ro Ro Express' answered the question by taking the team Elimination race and 20 points ahead of the 'Danish Dynamite'. They then stormed around to another 1,000m TT win in 55.864 seconds and increased their lead over the Danes to 35 points.

I spoke to the lone Belgian in the field Kenny De Ketele about his week, tonight and the immediate future. He said he has been going ok but that his form is 'nothing special' and he won't be going onto Copenhagen for the last Six of the season but will ride on the road, then prepare for the World Championships where he'll ride with Iljo Keisse. His tip for the win was Rasmussen/Morkov, who he thought would have their way in the final bonus!!! The reason for his partner Andy Beikirch's indifferent form and condition is also clear, as he has already started his post-racing career working for bike manufacturer 'Focus' and has not been in serious training prior to this Six.

Standings before the Finale Madison:

Danny Stam - Peter Schep (Ned) 182 points
@ 1 lap:
Robert Bartko - Roger Kluge (Ger) 280
Alex Rasmussen - Michael Morkov (Den) 245
Alex Aeschbach - Franco Marvulli (Switz) 203

Danes Time it Right and Hold off Germans for Classic Berlin Win!!!

As the final Madison got underway, (the arena packed to the rafters), all the talk of Six Days in crisis was forgotten for now. The last chase ran for 60 minutes with bonus sprints every 10 laps over the final 50. Stam/Schep held the lead but they had all the pressure on them with the Bartko/Kluge partnership certain to go on the attack in front of their adoring crowd. Rasmussen/Morkov and Marvulli/Aeschbach started the 'Finale' likely needing to gain a lap on Bartko/Kluge and two on the Dutchmen so they also needed to really go for it.

As the chase got going it was clear that Stem/Schep had an uphill battle on their hands as their lead was wiped out almost within the first few minutes and for the next 35 minutes the top teams marked each other lap for lap. Stam did have a chance to work with Marvulli to get back on terms but seemed reluctant to do so and although Marvulli/Aeschbach were willing the strength of the German and Danish teams was too much for them and the Dutchmen on the 250 metre track. After the first bonus sprint with 40 laps to go Stam/Schep did try to get away but couldn't do so as Bartko reeled them in. The race, and the building, caught fire with 33 laps to go when Rasmussen jumped away, with Bartko/Kluge unable to respond. The Danish World Champions where close to catching the bunch when Kluge went off in pursuit. The Danes re-joined the bunch and had a lap advantage but they had to go straight to the front of the peloton to begin what was in effect a 20 lap pursuit match. The German team where roared on by the home crowd and it was nip and tuck for the next 15 laps as the Germans hung at about half a lap behind. With 5 laps to go Kluge somehow managed to summon some extra strength and got to with 50-60 metres of the main field when he handed over to Bartko with 3 laps left. The former World and Olympic Pursuit Champion kept hammering away but with the field within what seemed like touching distance at the bell the erstwhile strongman could do no more and had to concede defeat to the 'Danish Dynamite'.

In over 25 Six Day races I've never seen one that had the team going for the win chasing the bunch to get back on level terms on laps, the points were not an issue and the bonus sprints were in effect null and void. The Danes really have learned how to win tough Six Day races after blowing a couple in the past during the final chase. Their last gasp sprint win in Ghent and now this Risi/Betschart style late attack and chase, prove they'll go home to Copenhagen the team to beat in that Six and the 2010 World Madison Championship.

What they said:

Alex Aeschbach with Franco Marvulli (4th):

"Those guys like Kluge, Rasmussen and Morkov were just too strong on this long track. We tried but we just couldn't match that strength!!!"

Michael Morkov (winner):

We had a really hard battle with Robert and Roger and at times I didn't believe that we could hold on for what was it... 30 laps... and they attacked at a really good moment. The track is very fast and we were having trouble just to get through the peloton to chase but we managed to do it and I'm really, really happy we could win this race. I've been here every year for the last 10 since racing as a junior, then amateur and now as a pro, so Berlin is always a big place for me.

FINAL STANDINGS:

Alex Rasmussen - Michael Morkov (Den) 273
@ 1 lap:
Robert Bartko - Roger Kluge (Ger) 310
Danny Stam - Peter Schep (Ned) 188 points
@ 2 Laps:
Alex Aeschbach - Franco Marvulli (Switz) 225
Leif Lampater - Christian Grasmann (Ger) 164
Andreas Muller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger) 128
@5 laps:
Robert Bengsch - Marcel Kalz (Ger) 142
@ 9 laps
Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - K De Ketele (Bel) 82

Elsewhere:

Erik Zabel and his wife were in Berlin for 3 nights, as the Zabel family was represented in the Junior 3 days (Under 19s) by their 16 year old son Rick. He finished 2nd in this event and has ambitions to race professionally on both the road and track. It was perhaps one of the stranger sights of the last few days watching 6 times Tour green jersey winner carrying his son's wheels for him, but then again being a parent comes before anything else.

Also in attendance tonight was none other than 'Didi the Devil' of Tour De France fame complete with his full outfit and trident. Fortunately he resisted the temptation to jump on the track and run alongside the riders as he does in the mountains but he remains an unmistakable figure none the less.

Sprinters & Stehers:

The six day Sprinters Cup went to German number one and reigning World Keirin Champion Maximilian Levy from Cottbus. After a few years chasing the coat tails of the French, British, Australian and Dutch sprinters, the Germans appear to again have another decent set of fast men. They also medalled in the Team sprint at the last Olympics and Worlds. Whether Levy can actually challenge for the prestigious match Sprint title remains to be seen but he has sponsorship from the French Cofidis team and seems to be the successor to another Eastern German sprint legend Jens Fiedler.

The Stehers pleased the crowds throughout the week with Timo Scholz from Leipzig making it another win for the East, ahead of German champ Mario Vonhof and Swiss veteran Peter Jorg in 3rd.

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