'Finale' of the 99th Berliner Sechstagerennen
by Steve Penny
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!!!”
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.
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 Müller (Aut) - Erik Mohs (Ger) 128 @5 laps: Robert Bengsch – Marcel Kalz (Ger) 142 @ 9 laps Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - K De Ketele (Bel) 82
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.