98th Edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen - Day 6
by Steve Penny
Das Grosse Finale
The 98th Berliner Sechstagerennen reaches its climax tonight at the Landsberger Allee velodrome. Once again spectators are flocking in large numbers along the concourse outside the complex that was originally built as part of the City of Berlins bid for the 2000 Olympics that eventually went to Sydney. The Berlin Six organisation has also confirmed today that the event is safe until 2022. This announcement should ensure that at least 111 editions will go into the record books.
The action on the 250 metre track took another twist on Monday night with the Danes Alex Rasmussen and Michael Morkov taking the lead after gaining 70 points last night. Lurking ominously in 2nd place, and now over his stomach bug, is the big star of this Six, Erik Zabel, with Berlins other golden boy Robert Bartko at his side. In 3rd are the impressive Kenny De Ketele and the ‘Young German cyclist of the year’ Roger Kluge. Just behind this team are Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli who had a quiet Monday night. Despite Rasmussen / Morkov's presence at the top of the standing the big struggle of the Final Madison is expected to be between Zabel / Bartko and Risi / Marvulli. Last year the Danes had a similar lead on the last day but faded away, maybe this year they are a year stronger and more experienced but I always think they have the Copenhagen Six in mind, but we will see.
The big losers last night were the revelations of the event Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz but the Berlin boys slipped to 6th at 3 laps behind, following what must have been a difficult Berliner Night (Monday) for them. They will most likely lose another few laps in the final but can be content with their showing, as both are still inexperienced at this level. The Dutch pair of Stam / Schep is healthy and holding their own at 2 laps behind but are certainly out of contention as are Roberts / Lampater and Lademann / Aeschbach. The Six is going to be won by one of four teams which still make for an exciting finale.
Leaders at the end of Monday Night (Day 5):
1. Rasmussen / Morkov 230 points 2. Zabel / Bartko 206 3. Kluge / De Ketele 202 4. Risi / Marvulli 200 At 2 Laps: 5. Stam / Schep 127 At 3 Laps: 6. Bengsch / Kalz 196 At 4 Laps: 7. Roberts / Lampater 129 8. Lademann / Aeschach 98
With none of the top 4 within reach of another bonus lap, the early races may see teams ease off a bit, although Rasmussen / Morkov have a good point’s advantage and if they add to that lead rest would need to take a lap off them to win. The first race is the point’s race and some points are added but this race has no winner as such, just points added to overall totals. Bengsch / Kalz take back 5th place for the time being at least by gaining a bonus lap for 200 points and Zabel / Bartko take some more points. The Team Elimination went to Kluge / De Ketele with Risi / Marvulli 3rd., so with Rasmussen / Morkov taking no points so far their lead is down from 24 to 9 points, although they should be good for 20 points later in the 1,000 metre time trial (TT). The last Derny race of the Six went to Danny Stam and Peter Schep, paced around by fellow Dutchman Bruno Walrave who at 70 is in his last season as a Derny and Steher pacer before retirement. Zabel / Bartko took another 6 points to close within 3 of the lead and what the crowd want to see, a home win.
Finale Getting Closer
The last TT had no official result after Rasmussen, who with Morkov broke 56 seconds on Monday night, had a problem with his pedals while lapping the track and didn’t return to the track, so no points were given to any of the teams. Rasmussen / Morkov did win a small trophy for being the best team in the TT over the six days but did not add to there 230 points. The Otto Ziege point’s race went appropriately to locals Bengsch / Kalz taking another bouquet but the likely hood is they’ll lose a place or two in the final Madison.
Standings before the Final Madison:
1. Rasmussen / Morkov 230 points 2. Kluge / De Ketele 229 3. Zabel / Bartko 227 4. Risi / Marvulli 217 At 2 Laps: 5. Bengsch / Kalz 220 6. Stam / Schep 139 At 3 Laps: 7. Lademann / Aeschach 125 At 4 Laps: 8. Roberts / Lampater 154
Final of the 98th Berliner Sechstagerennen
The final Madison of the Six was run over 45 minutes plus 50 laps, with bonus sprints every 10 laps of the last 50. These races always produce excitement and this one was no exception with the result still in doubt up until the final minutes.
The first 30 minutes saw the 4 top teams left in contention taking a lap or two each, but no one really tried to break the field, although Kluge / De Ketele looked lively and at one point had a big upset in their sights. The first mistake they made though after going away, was they were joined by one of the lesser, rather than major teams, and rather than sitting up they persisted for more than a few laps before eventually being pulled back into the bunch. After a short lapse they tried again and this time gained half a lap. It was during this move that Rasmussen / Morkov lost their own chance of winning the Six as they drove at the front of the bunch for lap after lap, slowly clawing back the by now tired looking German / Belgian pairing, showing their Team Pursuit quality. While the Danes drove on Zabel / Bartko and Risi / Marvulli sat a few places back in the peloton and bided their time. As Rasmussen / Morkov finally brought back Kluge / De Ketele in his last 25 minutes of racing, Erik Zabel jumped away with Marvulli on his wheel. Bartko and Risi, with Bartko looking especially strong, drove on and within a few minutes the two favourite teams had gained the all important lap.
With 50 laps and those bonus sprints left, Zabel / Bartko and Risi / Marvulli were in the lead a clear lap ahead of Rasmussen / Morkov and Kluge / De Ketele with the Berlin ‘dream team’ in poll position 10 points clear of the Swiss flyers. In the first sprint it was Bartko who surprisingly went for and took it. The 2nd sprint saw Marvulli take some much needed points for his team to keep them in the hunt for victory, although Zabel and Bartko looked strong. In between the 2nd and 3rd sprint with Kluge / De Ketele now unable to make another move, Rasmussen / Morkov tried their big all or nothing attack and at first looked like they could get back on terms and possibly pick up some bonus points on the way. But Bartko again put the hammer down, with the pain showing on his face he was able to power around the 250 metre track. Like Kluge / De Ketele before them the Danes, once caught, were out of the running and faded to eventually finish 4th. The 3rd sprint then went to Risi from Zabel and the Swiss team closed to within 6 points of the overall lead. The crowd were up on their feet for the bonus sprints and there was a sense of tension, and anticipation, in the air. Although the Berlin crowd are fair minded and applaud any winner they were firmly behind Zabel / Bartko tonight.
The 4th sprint is the one that all but seals it for the Berliners. Bartko took a couple of very long turns allowing Zabel some recovery time which paid off, as Zabel beat Risi this time, meaning they only needed to place in the top 4 in the last sprint to win it. Bartko and Zabel want to finish in style though and Bartko gave Zabel another break before slinging him in to take this last sprint in his last race. With the home crowd jumping for joy, it really was a fitting end to a fine Six Day race and a great career.
The lap of honour and podium ceremonies took longer than usual as it was all about Erik Zabel. He has been saying goodbye at tracks in Amsterdam, Dortmund (twice – the Six and Boxing Day meet), Munich, Ghent and Bremen in what has perhaps been the longest retirement ever. But as it all started in Berlin, so this is where it finished and he was joined by his father, a former East German track racer, for the photo sessions. After saying a few words of thanks to the passionate crowd he slowly pedalled around the track one last time with a tear in his eye and a song playing over the PA recorded in his honour (the lyrics saying something like “there is only one Erik Zabel”) he went off to hang up his wheels for the last time.
At 38 there will be no comebacks for Erik.
What They Said:
After leading into the final Madison for the 2nd year running, the always impressive Danes Alex Rasmussen & Michael Morkov ended up in 4th place. I asked Michael Morkov how they failed to get on the podium again.
You seemed to be doing too much work chasing Kluge / De Ketele?
What about your future racing the Six Days?
The pairing of Kenny De Ketele & Roger Kluge only came together a few days before the Six began but they finished a very good 3rd and gave everything for the win. I asked Kenny about the tactics and said that perhaps they went a bit too hard too soon and wasted energy?
Roger Kluge was a silver medallist at the Worlds and Olympics as well as being young German cyclist of the year for 2008, so sadly for Six Day fans, it is no surprise to hear of his future plans:
1. Zabel / Bartko 269 points 2. Risi / Marvulli 255 At 1 Lap: 3. Kluge / De Ketele 243 4. Rasmussen / Morkov 238 At 3 Laps: 5. Stam / Schep 139 At 4 Laps: 6. Bengsch / Kalz 220 7. Lademann / Aeschach 127 At 5 Laps: 8. Roberts / Lampater 158 At 13 Laps: 9. Muller / Siedler 77 10. Hester / Madsen 66 At 15 Laps: 11. Mohs / Ciccone 33 At 16 Laps: 12. Grasmann / Thomel 82 13. Konig / Barth 63 At 17 Laps: 14. Bommel / Schaar 85 At 19 Laps: 15. Musiol / Frey 79 At 24 Laps: 16. Kadlec / Zabka 34 17. Ratajczyk / Lazar 32 At 25 Laps: 18. Graf / Matzka 37
The Steher Cup was won by Timo Schulz who had a good week and confirmed his dominance by taking the last of the 6 races over 60 laps tonight. The runner up was Berliner Mario Vonhof who place consistently every day, rather than winning a race. The same went for 3rd placed Tim Van der Zanden from Holland who was even racing with a damaged left arm. He could be seen walking around in a sling, pre-race. The Swiss challenge from Peter Jorg and Guiseppe Atzeni never came and they finished off the pace in 4th and 6th overall ,respectively.
The Berlin crowd love to see this unusual but spectacular event so the Stehers will be back in 2010 to entertain the public once again.
The 21 year old Maximillian Levy took the Champions Sprint series from Stefan Nimke and Rene Enders. After Nimke ran him close in the more relaxed Six Day environment, Levy now moves on towards the more daunting World Championship stage. In Poland at the end of March, he will attempt, along with the French, to upset the dominant British pair of Chris Hoy (BBC Sports Personality of 2008) and rising star Jason Kenny.