by Steve Penny
British 6-Day Correspondent
30 January 2011
The 100th Berliner Sechstage Rennen started on Thursday and already big gaps have appeared as the top teams started the fight that will conclude in the hour long Madison on Tuesday night. As reported it is unlikely that the winners will come from outside of 3 or 4 teams and after the first 2 nights it seems that list is actually down to 3. As expected Bartko / Kluge and Rasmussen / Morkov are setting the pace but the Australian World Madison Champions Meyer and Howard are more than holding their own. The other ‘top’ team Marvulli / Hondo don’t appear to be going so well but things can change.
1. Rasmussen – Mörköv 105 points at 1 lap: 2. Bartko – Kluge 115 3. Howard – Meyer 77 at 2 laps: 4. Hondo – Marvulli 71 5. Stam - Schep 49 6. Bengsch - Kalz 14 at 3 laps: 7. Lampater - Grasmann 50 8. De Ketele – Mertens 39 at 4 laps 9. Blaha – Hochmann 23 at 5 laps: 10. Barth – Mohs 68 11. Thomel – Muller 33 at 6 laps: 12. Hester – Madsen 47 13. Kadlec – Bommel 16 at 7 laps: 14. Matzka – Reinhardt 27 at 8 laps: 15. Imhoff – Dillier 19 16. Dostal – Hacecky 5 at 9 laps: 17. Markow – Kowaljow 2 at 10 laps: 18. Edmuller – Faltin 5
After last nights racing the Danish team Alex Rasmussen and Michael Morkov sat one lap clear of the field. With Rasmussen signing for HTC-High Road to focus more on the road in 2011 it seemed that this might be one of the last times we’d see the 2009 World Champions together at a Six Day race, for the foreseeable future at least. That isn’t the case though and one half of the Danish Dynamite, Michael Morkov, was able to set the record straight and give me some thoughts on the race so far and the outcome:
“Alex and I have agreed that we will continue the 6-days together and we hope our road programmes can fit in another 3 or 4 6-day races next winter.
Right now I’m feeling really well and we’re on the top of the GC after a good performance yesterday. Alex is also going fine too, so I would say our chances for the win are pretty big at the moment. For sure it will be difficult to keep the lap ahead, but yesterday we showed our strength and we know that we are capable of winning. This has been satisfying both to have the chance to take another victory here in Berlin but especially as we have our eyes on next weeks home race in Copenhagen.
The Berlin Six is the event with the highest number of people watching, but having said that, it’s definitely not here that the riders are earning the salary of their lives!!!”
After winning the Tour Down Under and just turning 23 the 4 time World Track Champion Cameron Meyer from Western Australia is riding his first Six Day. Before Saturdays racing I asked him how it was going in his first Six and about his plans for the coming months:
“It’s certainly different!!!"
"After the Tour Down Under I’m just getting used the small gears but I’m feeling ok. As for actual winning that is going to be difficult as Kluge and Rasmussen are really fast, and strong. Riding this event is very different from one of a World or National Championship Madison race when we just max out for 60 minutes. Also we’d ride much bigger gears in a championship Madison than we are here so yeah all in all its going ok."
"After this race I’m going to do the Tour of Oman on the road and then it’s into a 4 week training camp with the national track team to really focus on preparation for the Track Worlds in Holland.”
The organisation is honouring the history of their 100th event and all members of the organisation are resplendent in retro suits with what I’d call plus fours (long socks and trousers just reaching below the knees). As the Berlin Six prides itself on being first and foremost about the sport they are nightly presenting former winners and prominent local cyclists. Tonight it was the turn of Erik Zabel and of course the Tour Green jersey winner is a rider most people are familiar with. The other local cycling personality was Klaus Bugdahl and he received no lesser an ovation. He is not as well known to German fans but the 76 year old is the leading German in both Six Day starts having 228, and 37 wins. The Berliner also holds the record for wins here in Berlin having 9 victories in a long career as his wins came across 3 decades; the first was in 1958 and the last 1970.
There are a few changes to the race programme and after a leg stretching point’s race the riders went straight into a 100 lap Madison. The leaders kept their powder dry in this one as Peter Schep won the battle of the ‘none sprinters’ from de Ketele and Lampater, the 3 teams finishing a lap clear of the field.
The Derny racing was not as popular here as it is in Ghent for example, but it remains very much part of any Six-Day race. The riders from each team do 30 laps each here and tonight’s early race, for the top 9 teams, was won by Berliners Marcel Kalz and Robert Bengsch.
There was only one Elimination race (or Devil) and it’s for teams. As one would expect with so few races in the programme, the top teams didn’t hold back and Bartko / Kluge and Rasmussen / Morkov set a blistering pace that burnt off the others one by one. In the final sprint Rasmussen showed he is fit and in form by out sprinting Kluge to set a marker for the next few days, as well as consolidating the lead.
The big rendezvous of the night was the 45 minute Madison and the closing laps brought the 11,000+ crowd to its feet after Bartko / Kluge, Howard / Meyer and Marvulli / Hondo pulled a lap clear of the field. No doubt mindful of the finishing speed of Kluge the Australian team got a gap of about 20-25 metres with 3 laps to race. Meyer took a big turn and as he threw in Howard they still had a big gap but with the crowd whistling and cheering him on Kluge made a charge only for Howard to just hold him off by a bike length on the line. In 3rd place Marvulli / Hondo at least stayed in contention but Marvulli looked like he was working very hard. It was worthwhile though as the effort put them close to a bonus lap and the Swiss / German combo could yet come alive. The Danish Dynamite kept their powder dry and finished a lap behind.
The win took Howard / Meyer over 100 points and gave them the overall lead as midnight approached.
The last big race for the endurance riders was the 1,000 Metre Time Trial (TT) and Kluge / Bartko won this one in 56.300. The big surprise was that Rasmussen / Morkov finished outside of the points and one can only hope that neither has got sick or injured during the evening as before racing (as reported above) both were feeling good
The closing races saw local wins in the Points race for Kalz / Bengsch and the Dernys (for the bottom half of the standings) for Andreas Muller / Thomel, sending the crowd home happy.
1. Howard – Meyer 105 points at 1 lap: 2. Bartko – Kluge 170 3. Rasmussen – Mörköv 149 4. Hondo – Marvulli 101 at 2 laps: 5. Stam - Schep 76 at 3 laps 6. Lampater – Grasmann 70 7. De Ketele – Mertens 63 8. Bengsch - Kalz 56 at 6 laps 9. Barth – Mohs 113 10. Blaha – Hochmann 29 at 7 laps: 11. Hester – Madsen 64 12. Thomel – Muller 50 at 9 laps: 13. Kadlec – Bommel 20 at 10 laps: 14. Imhoff – Dillier 33 at 11 laps: 15. Matzka – Reinhardt 47 at 13 laps: 16. Markow – Kowaljow 15 17. Edmuller – Faltin 14 18. Dostal – Hacecky 7
The reason the main Six Day programme is much shorter here is because of the sprint and steher (motor-paced) races. Those events are separate from the Six Day race but the riders are competing for a prize as best Sprinter and Steher.
The leading Sprinter after 3 nights is Maximilian Levy, the 23 year old from Cottbus, a member of the German 2010 World Team Sprint Championship winning team. He leads his fellow team sprinters Stefan Nimke and Robert Forstemann who are contributing to pleasing the crowd.
The leading Stehers after 3 nights are the Swiss/Italian Giuseppe Atzeni, who is the reigning European Champion, and Timo Scholz. The 38 year old Scholz from Leipzig has taken the mantle as Berlin crowd favourite from the great Berlin Steher Carsten Podlesch who retired a few years ago.