An Introduction to the 98th Edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen
by Steve Penny
There have been enforced breaks during this long history most notably for 14 years before, through and after World War II (it makes me glad to know that Hitler wasn't a cycling fan). Then homelessness between 1991 and 1996 - after the 1990 demolition of long time home the Deutschland Halle, in what was then West Berlin - interrupted 41 years and 54 editions. These 54 post-war, and pre 1991 editions proved its enduring popularity, as 13 times between 1950 and 1970 two Berlin Six Day races where run in the same year. Following a 6 year gap it was resurrected in 1997 by Heinz Seesing at the then brand new Landsberger Allee Velodrome in the former Eastern district of Prenzlauer Berg. This modern luxurious facility was surely built with the Six Day race in mind because as well as being a permanent cycle track it hosts concerts and trade fairs throughout the year. The event has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years attracting near sell out crowds of 75,000 people over the six days, thus confirming its popularity into the new millennium and beyond.
Here is the full list of winners dating back to 1909 (edition number in brackets):
2008 (97.) Bruno Risi (Swi) - Franco Marvulli (Swi) 2007 (96.) Guido Fulst (D) - Leif Lampater (D) 2006 (95.) Danny Stam (NL) - Robert Slippens (NL) 2005 (94.) Bruno Risi (Swi) - Kurt Betschart (SUI) 2004 (93.) Robert Bartko (D) - Guido Fulst (D) 2003 (92.) Bruno Risi (Swi) - Kurt Betschart (Swi) 2002 (91.) Silvio Martinello (I) - Rolf Aldag (D) 2001 (90.) Silvio Martinello (I) - Rolf Aldag (D) 2000 (89.) Silvio Martinello (I) - Marco Villa (I) 1999 (88.) Andreas Kappes (D) - Etienne de Wilde (B) 1998 (87.) Silvio Martinello (I) - Marco Villa (I) 1997 (86.) Olaf Ludwig (D) - Jens Veggerby (Dk) 1991 to 1996 not run 1990 (85.) Volker Diehl (D) - Bruno Holenweger (SUI) 1988 (84.) Danny Clark (AUS) - Anthony Doyle (GB) 1987 (83.) Dietrich Thurau (D) - Urs Freuler (Swi) 1986 (82.) Danny Clark (AUS) - Anthony Doyle (GB) 1985 (81.) Danny Clark (AUS) - Hans-Henrik Oersted (DK) 1984 (80.) Danny Clark (AUS) - Horst Schütz (D) 1983 (79.) Danny Clark (AUS) - Anthony Doyle (GB) 1982 (78.) Patrick Sercu (B) - Maurizio Bidinost (I) 1981 (77.) Dietrich Thurau (D) - Gregor Braun (D) 1980 (76.) Patrick Sercu (B) - Gregor Braun (D) 1979 (75.) Patrick Sercu (B) - Dietrich Thurau (D) 1978 (74.) Patrick Sercu (B) - Dietrich Thurau (D) 1977 (73.) Patrick Sercu (B) - Eddy Merckx (B) 1976 (72.) Dietrich Thurau (D) - Günther Haritz (D) 1975 (71.) Petrick Sercu (B) - Dietrich Thurau (D) 1974 (70.) Rene Pijnen (NL) - Roy Schuiten (NL) 1973 (69.) Wolfgang Schulze (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1972 (68.) Rene Pijnen (NL) - Leo Duyndam (NL) 1971 (67.) Peter Post (NL) - Patrick Sercu (B) 1970 (66.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Jürgen Tschan (D) 1970 (65.) Wolfgang Schulze (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1969 (64.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Dieter Kemper (D) 1969 (63.) Wolfgang Schulze (D) - Horst Oldenburg (D) 1968 (62.) Peter Post (NL) - Wolfgang Schulze (D) 1968 (61.) Pally Lykke (DK) - Freddy Eugen (DK) 1967 (60.) Peter Post (NL) - Klaus Bugdahl (D) 1967 (59.) Dieter Kemper (D) - Horst Oldenburg (D) 1966 (58.) Rudi Altig (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1966 (57.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1965 (56.) Rudi Altig (D) - Dieter Kemper (D) 1965 (55.) Peter Post (NL) - Fritz Pfenniger (Swi) 1964 (54.) Peter Post (NL) - Fritz Pfenniger (Swi) 1964 (53.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1963 (52.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Sigi Renz (D) 1962 (51.) Rudi Altig (D) - Hans Junkermann (D) 1962 (50.) Peter Post (NL) - Rik van Looy (B) 1961 (49.) Klaus Bugdahl (D) - Fritz Pfenniger (SUI) 1961 (48.) Rik van Steenbergen (B) - Klaus Bugdahl (D) 1960 (47.) Peter Post (NL) - Rik van Looy (B) 1959 (46.) Kay Werner Nielsen (DK) - Palle Lykke (DK) 1958 (45.) Gerrit Schulte (NL) - Klaus Bugdahl (D) 1957 (44.) Rik van Steenbergen (B) - Emile Severeyns (B) 1956 (43.) Jean Roth (SUI) - Walter Bucher (SUI) 1955 (42.) Lucien Gillen (Lux) - Fernando Terruzzi (I) 1954 (41.) Emile Carrara (F) - Dominique Forlini (F) 1954 (40.) Gerrit Schulte (NL) - Gerrit Peters (NL) 1953 (39.) Jean Roth (SUI) - Walter Bucher (SUI) 1953 (38.) vorzeitig abgebrochen (prematurely broken off) 1952 (37.) Emile Carrara (F) - Heinz Zoll (D) 1952 (36.) Guy Lapebie (F) - Emile Carrara (F) 1951 (35.) Guy Lapebie (F) - Emile Carrara (F) 1951 (34.) Gustav Kilian (D) - Heinz Vopel (D) 1950 (33.) Alfred Strom (AUS) - Reginald Arnold (AUS) 1950 (32.) Alfred Strom (AUS) - Reginald Arnold (AUS) 1949 (31.) Severino Rigoni (I) - Fernando Terruzzi (I) 1935 to 1948 not run 1934 (30.) Viktor Rausch (D) - Walter Lohmann (D) 1933 (29.) Roger Deneef (B) - Albert Buysse (B) 1933 (28.) Paul Broccardo (F) - Marcel Guimbretiere (F) 1932 (27.) Paul Broccardo (F) - Oskar Tietz (D) 1931 (26.) Paul Broccardo (F) - Oskar Tietz (D) 1931 (25.) Adolf Schön (D) - Jan Pijnenburg (NL) 1930 (24.) Viktor Rausch (D) - Gottfried Hürtgen (D) 1930 (23.) Piet van Kempen (NL) - Paul Buschenhagen (D) 1929 (22.) Erich Dorn (D) - Erich Maczynski (D) 1929 (21.) Franz Dülberg (D) - Otto Petri (D) 1928 (20.) Lothar Ehmer (D) - Georg Kroschel (D) 1927 (19.) Maurice de Wolf (B) - Piet van Kempen (NL) 1927 (18.) Willy Lorenz (D) - Alessandro Tonani (I) 1926 (17.) Georges Wambst (F) - Charles Lacquehay (F) 1926 (16.) Lucien Louet (F) - Pierre Sergent (F) 1926 (15.) Reggie McNamara (AUS) - Harry Horan (AUS) 1925 (14.) Alois Persyn (B) - Jules Verschelden (B) 1925 (13.) Walter Rütt (D) - Emile Aerts (B) 1924 (12.) Franz Krupkat (D) - Richard Huschke (D) 1924 (11.) Willy Lorenz (D) - Karl Saldow (D) 1923 (10.) Fritz Bauer (D) - Oskar Tietz (D) 1922 (9.) Karl Saldow (D) - Fritz Bauer (D) 1919 (8.) Karl Saldow (D) - Willy Techmer (D) 1914 (7.) Willy Lorenz (D) - Karl Saldow (D) 1913 (6.) Jack Clark (AUS) - Fred Hill (USA) 1912 (5.) Walter Rütt (D) - John Stol (NL) 1912 (4.) Walter Rütt (D) - John Stol (NL) 1911 (3.) Walter Rütt (D) - John Stol (NL) 1910 (2.) Walter Rütt (D) - Jack Clark (Aus) 1909 (1.) Floyd MacFarland (USA) - Jimmy Moran (USA)
The 2009 Edition
As reported in our Ghent Six preview, cycle racing in Germany is on a downward spiral due to the ongoing doping scandals that blight the sport. The Stuttgart Six was cancelled before the winter season started due to the lack of sponsors, no doubt put off by the dark shadow of doping. The Six Day world has also been rocked with a doping scandal of its own after one of the biggest stars and part of the future of the Sixes Belgian, Iljo Keisse tested positive for banned substances after winning his home Ghent Six in November. The Berlin Six though seems to have remained unaffected by these ongoing problems, although a couple of heavy crashes in last weeks Bremen Six has depleted this year's field. The German riders Andreas Beikirch and Olaf Pollack, who would be expected to contend, sustained injuries that left them unable to start in their capital city.
Berlin Boys are Favourites
Despite the Bremen crash and doping, the Berlin Six has an added bonus this year because locally born Erik Zabel will be riding his bike in anger for the last time but also making his Berlin debut, a fitting end to a great career. Due to commitments with road teams, early season races and training camps in the past Berlin, and other Sixes, had always been off limits for Zabel. During this winter season though he has raced in Amsterdam, Dortmund, Munich, Ghent and Bremen in what has been a farewell tour. He has not taken this tour lightly though turning up to race hard at them all, winning both Dortmund and Bremen with Leif Lampater. For his last outing, Berlin Sports Director Deiter Stein has given the local public what they want by creating a Berlin 'dream team'. His partner is fellow Berlin hero Robert Bartko, who hails from Potsdam just a few kilometres down the road. This pairing will undoubtedly start the race as strong favourites and Bartko will be highly motivated himself after not riding here last year following a dispute over his contract fee.
Risi / Marvulli Reunited (on the bike at least)
Following a dominating 2007/2008 season for Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli it was assumed they would continue to be the Madison team to beat at the Manchester World Track Championship and Beijing Olympics. But after below par performances in Manchester and Beijing for the Swiss team the Six Day season also started badly when Marvulli abandoned in Dortmund. He did not start the Munich or Ghent Sixes either, a virus being the explanation. However after a brief reappearance with Risi at the small Zuidlaren Six in Holland they were not paired together for the Zurich Six, which was a big surprise. Risi favoured forming a new team with Danny Stam and they won in Zurich then made the podium in Rotterdam and Bremen. Marvulli raced to podium places with Llaneras, Lampater and Pollack respectively at those last three Sixes and it would appear all has not been well between the Swiss riders.
Fast forward to Berlin and they are once again paired together having won the 2008 edition together so it will certainly be interesting to see if personal issues, if they do exist, can be overcome and the once dynamic chemistry regained. Certainly Risi is a true professional and it may be that as both riders are having fairly poor seasons, by their own high standards, they will put everything else aside and once again turn up the heat to challenge Zabel / Bartko for first prize. It is Marvulli's favourite race and you can't count Risi out at any Six Day race he starts.
After the aforementioned Bremen crash the field does look a little thin on contenders which would have given the organisers a headache when forming the teams. But on this large championship sized 250 metre track lap gains will always be much harder to come by than on the smaller tracks used at most Sixes. The field will probably separated by smaller margins at the end so there are will still be a number of teams with the chance to challenge.
Stam / Schep:
In December news broke that after 11 wins from 70 Six Day starts Danny Stams long time partner Robert Slippens had decided to retire from the sport at the age of 33. The reason for this premature end to a successful career was that Slippens has never fully recovering from injuries sustained in a heavy crash during the summer of 2006. He noted that he had continued to feel pain in the affected areas and been unable to race at the same competitive level he was at before the crash. Despite this he did win 2 Sixes this winter but Robert will know what is best for him and his long term health and so we wish him well for his future off the bike.
After racing 3 Sixes with his now preferred partner Bruno Risi the veteran Stam will team up again with fellow Dutchman Peter Schep. However the health of Stam is still unclear after he himself was involved in the Bremen crash, injuring his hip. The Stam / Schep partnership is a good one though and they've won together before, so if Stam is healthy they should be competitive. The classy Schep will be on cloud nine after winning the Rotterdam Six earlier this month, he and the retiring Juan Llaneras pipping Risi and Stam by a few points in an exciting finale. Without a real sprint between them though they won't gain a large number of points over the six days and will have to gain an extra lap on the other contenders to win this Six.
Rasmussen / Morkov:
The Danish pair Alex Rasmussen (24) and Morkov (23) had looked like becoming the next big thing on the Six Day scene for a few years, despite limiting their appearances to concentrate on the Team Pursuit with Denmark. That Danish Pursuit squad had a fantastic 2008 too winning silver at both the Worlds and Olympics behind the all conquering British quartet, going below 4 minutes on a number of occasions. But their Six Day, and general track, careers look like going on hold for a few years at least after the lure of the road saw both riders signed by Bjarne Riis for his Saxo Bank (formerly CSC) Team.
This winter the Danes won in Grenoble and went mighty close behind Zabel / Lampater in Dortmund. Their last two outings at Munich and Zurich saw them fall a little off the pace although it had been a long 2008 for them. Before they head off onto the road full time they will want to win the Copenhagen Six that follows Berlin so they may just be re-finding their track legs (both tracks are 250 metres) and improving their condition in Germany. They should still give good value though by going well in the flying laps and 1km TTs but a place on or just below the podium may be the best we can expect from this highly talented duo.
Kluge / De Ketele:
The brightest talent in German track cycling is 22 year old Roger Kluge. He won silver medals in the 2008 Olympic Points race and Worlds Madison, with Olaf Pollack. The Pollack / Kluge pairing only raced 2 Sixes this winter, as Kluge was riding the UCI World Cups, but after they took 2nd in Grenoble and a fine 3rd in Munich you'd imagine that they'd have been one of the organisers crowd pleasing pairings here. But with Pollack unavailable, after Bremen, they decided to pair Kluge with 23 year old Belgian Kenny De Ketele. This is an interesting team as neither rider is particularly experienced but both seem to be natural Six Day winners of the future. Following a decent 2007/2008 winter De Ketele has settled into the fold well this season and despite only once having a top partner he has been in the first 5 in his last 4 outings, including 3rd with Beikirch at his home Ghent Six. With national team partner Iljo Keisse due to serve a ban De Ketele may look to concentrate 100% on riding the Sixes over the next few years. At present though it may still be a bit too soon for him, and Kluge, to get such a big win but they shouldn't be too far behind the winners at the end on Tuesday.
Lampater / Roberts:
Leif Lampater is at 26 no longer a young and up coming Six Day racer he is a genuine star of the winter tracks with 4 Six day wins in the last 13 months under his belt. This winter he has not only been riding strongly with the aforementioned Erik Zabel, an experience that can only have given him confidence, but also when paired with other riders. The 2008/2009 records show that Lampater has not been off the podium in any of the 8 Sixes he has ridden this winter. He currently tops the UIV ranking for Madison riders without having ridden in any championship races in 2008 and he may have been disappointed, and unlucky, not to have got the ride with Zabel. So he enters the Berlin fray alongside Australian Team Pursuit specialist Luke Roberts.
Australian riders have a winning tradition in Berlin that dates back to 1910 and Roberts, who is also a former road pro with CSC, is undoubtedly a good rider but not one who usually rides at every Six. This is the first time (Scott McGrory in Ghent once being the exception) that he has been paired with one of the top ranked Six Day guys and he'll surely be motivated to show well. The longer 250 metre track will suit the Aussie as a pursuit rider, so they could spring a surprise by challenging for the podium or maybe even the win if anyone falters.
The rest of the field will be really just forming a peloton for the big boys to chase although Alex Aeschbach and Christian Lademann where the surprise package of last year finishing 3rd. The experienced and steady Aeschbach has had a solid season being well placed with various partners at most of his starts. But one suspect's last year was the ride of a life time by Lademann who had not been at that level before and a top 5 placing would be a good result for the Swiss / German combination.
Our friend Andreas Muller was born and still lives within walking distance of the Velodrome and he will be keen to show well in his home city. His partner is Sebastian Siedler who has come back to the Sixes after a few years on the road with Team Milram who he'd joined after a steady early career with the German Team Pursuit squad. Andreas is certainly a rider who gives 100% every time he hits the track but it is unlikely this pair will be strong or good enough to do better than 6-8th place overall.
Team 1 Angelo Ciccone (Ita) - Erik Mohs (D) Team 2 Luke Roberts (Aus) - Leif Lampater (D) Team 3 Erik Zabel (D) - Robert Bartko (D) Team 4 Roger Kluge (D) - Kenny de Ketele (B) Team 5 Bruno Risi (Swi) - Franco Marvulli (Swi) Team 6 Henning Bommel (D) - Fabian Schaar (D) Team 7 Danny Stam (Ned) - Peter Schep (Ned) Team 8 Robert Bengsch (D) - Marcel Kalz (D) Team 9 Marc Hester (Dk) - Jens-Erik Madsen (Dk) Team 10 Alex Rasmussen (Dk) - Michael Mörköv (Dk) Team 11 Karl-ChrIstian König (D) - Marcel Barth (D) Team 12 Andreas Müller (D) - Sebastian Siedler (D) Team 13 Daniel Musiol (D) - Sebastian Frey (D) Team 14 Christian Grasmann (D) - Tino Thömel (D) Team 15 Milan Kadlec (Cze) - Jozef Zabka (Svk) Team 16 Andreas Graf (Aust) - Ralf Matzka (D) Team 17 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) - Christian Lademann (D) Team 18 Rafal Ratajczyk (Pol) - Petr Lazar (Cze)
2008/2009 Six Day Season:
Amsterdam Stam / Slippens (Ned) Grenoble Rasmussen / Morkov (Den) Dortmund Zabel / Lampater (Ger) Milan Bettini (Ita) / Llaneras (Spa) Munich Keisse (Bel) / Bartko (Ger) Ghent Keisse (Bel) / Bartko (Ger) Zuidlaren(Ned) Stam / Slippens (Ned) Zurich Risi (Swi) / Stam (Ned) Rotterdam Schep (Ned) / Llaneras (Spa) Bremen Zabel / Lampater (Ger)
Stayers and Sprinters
Berlin always gives the Stayer (Steher in German or motor paced) racers and match Sprinters some well deserved spotlight and also gives the spectators a chance to enjoy every form of track racing, bar the tandem.
The Stehers will race for 20 minutes every night behind the big motors and this is one of just 3 Sixes that gives them a chance to shine, the others being Dortmund and Zurich. There is also a big Steher event in Dortmund on Boxing Day called the 'Großer Weihnachtspreis' which is now considered the unofficial World Championship. Otherwise the small band of specialists and their pacers race on large outdoor tracks over the summer in Germany, Switzerland and Holland in front of small but knowledgeable crowds
Courtesy of the Berliner site
Following the retirement of local hero Carsten Podlesch the Berlin favourite will be the 36 year old from Leipzig, Timo Scholz who won here last year, took the Boxing Day Großer Weihnachtspreis and the Steher Cup at the Dortmund Six. Hot on his heels should be Swiss riders Guiseppe Atzeni, who won in Zurich, and Peter Jorg who has been there or there about at most big Steher events over the years.
The sprinters will line up with a slight change to the usual Berlin nightly format of a Flying Lap, a Match Sprint and Keirin race as the latter has been replaced on the programme by the Team Sprint. This gives the home fans a chance to see their Olympic bronze medal winning trio of Levy, Enders and Nimke in action as well as witness this exciting discipline up close. The German team will compete against a mixed 'world' team comprised of Italian veteran Roberto Chiappa, Dutchman Tim Veldt and German Mathias John. It is still early in the year for the sprinters to be in top form as their objective will be the Track Worlds in Poland at the end of March but they will relish the chance to get on their bikes and entertain the big appreciative crowds.