An Introduction to the 99th Edition of the Berliner Sechstagerennen
by Steve Penny
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is the full list of winners dating back to 1909 (edition number in brackets):
2009 (98.) Eric Zabel (D) Robert Bartko (D) 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)
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 Mörköv (Den) Team 5 Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - Kenny de Ketele (Bel) Team 6 Andreas Müller (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 König (Ger) Team 11 Milan Kadlec (Cz) - Tristan Marguet (Sw) Team 12 Tino Thömel (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 Müller (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.