An Introduction to the 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent
by Steve Penny
British 6-Day Correspondent for TBCC's 6-Day Site
17th November 2006
The 66th Z6s Daagse Van Vlaanderen Gent (Gent Six Days) begins in the local velodrome known as Het Kuipke on Tuesday 21st November. Gent is second only to Berlin on the list for the most Six Day races held in a particular city and is truly a 'Classic' among Sixes. Among the greats of road and track to have graced past Gent victory podiums are Rik's (1 & 2) Van Steenbergen & Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Peter Post, Danny Clark, Tony Doyle, Etienne De Wilde and of course the king of the sixes himself Patrick Sercu.
The 2006 edition of the Gent Six appears to be wide open, however due to injury and retirements it is also on paper perhaps one of the weaker and least experienced fields in memory. The 13 teams, 26 riders, taking the start line include four individuals who have previously won in Gent - Bruno Risi, Iljo Keisse, Marco Villa and Danny Stam. This year each of them is paired with riders who have just four previous starts in Het Kuipke between them - Leif Lampater, Robert Bartko, Marc Hester and Peter Schep respectively. Of the past winners who rode last year Matt Gilmore & Robert Slippens are out with serious injuries sustained in late summer road race crashes. Kurt Betschart & Jimmi Madsen retired after the 2005/2006 six day season at the time of writing and twice winner Scott McGrory's future is unknown.
The Six Day Season So Far
Overall the 2006/2007 Six Day season appears to be good news for track fans as there are now more Sixes on the calendar than we've had in many years, as recently as 2003/2004 riders only had a seven race Six Day season. With the arrival of Maastricht, the return of Zurich, a second ever Six in Hasselt and the relatively recent revival of the Sixes in Rotterdam, Copenhagen and Amsterdam there are now twelve events to ride and the scene would appear to be thriving. However, looking down the results sheets so far this season races have not always been close and there is a lack of obvious favourites on the start lists. In Dortmund & Munich the 'dream team' of Risi & Zabel won as expected, in Dortmund by 2 laps, in Munich by 1 lap and on both occasions with the highest points total. At both these big German Sixes there was gap of 8 or 9 laps between the winners and 5th place, in Amsterdam and Maastricht gaps were fairly close between the first few teams but as in Germany a look further down the results confirms a lack of depth. Perhaps another pointer to the lack of quality experienced Six Day riders competing has been the unusually large number of crashes we've had so far this season.
Victors in the Six Day season so far:
- 28/09 - 03/10 Maastricht - Risi / Marvulli
- 16/10 - 21/10 Amsterdam - Stam / Schep
- 26/10 - 31/10 Dortmund - Risi / Zabel
- 26/10 - 31/10 Grenoble - Marvulli / Aeschbach
- 09/11 - 14/11 Munich - Risi / Zabel
(Note that the Dortmund and Grenoble Sixes are run concurrently)
Riders can of course only gain the necessary experience by riding the Six day races and long time Gent Six organiser Patrick Sercu recognised this inevitable changing of the guard so to speak at the recent 2006 Press launch when he said:
"When composing my field for Gent I have really tried to promote young talents. The time is right for it, we need new top-names in the 6-Days and the talent is there. The only way you can develop the talent is by giving them the chance and the challenge - and by showing them, that you have confidence in them."
Mr Sercu's comments allow us to focus on the positive aspects of the future of the Six Day races and - as noted already - the fact that there is no over riding favourites for this year's victory.
This year only five teams can realistically be concidered contenders for the victory, with a slight edge going to Team 2 of 2005, winner (with Matt Gilmore) Iljo Keisse and the German strong man Robert Bartko. Iljo Keisse is having a reasonable season so far placing 2nd in both Maastricht (with Marco Villa) and Munich (with Franco Marvulli) . The 23 year old Keisse is born and raised in Gent and will have the full support of the Het Kuipke crowd; it will inevitably be his main objective for this Six Day season. His partner Robert Bartko - an Olympic and World Pursuit Champion - has not had the best of seasons so far after a crash in Amsterdam forced him to abandon and still suffering the effects of that fall he also failed to finish in Dortmund. Worryingly for Bartko, Keisse and the Gent organisation after winning in Munich last year he only managed 5th this year, at 8 laps down, racing with his preferred partner and fellow German Andreas Beikirch.
At the recent Gent Six Press launch Etienne De Wilde, 9 time winner and local hero for over 15 years, said that his favourites where - current World Madison Champions - Team 1, the Spaniards Isaac Galvez and Juan Llaneras. The pair had a good 2nd place in Amsterdam their only other start so far was in Munich were they finished 4th at 3 laps with a fairly low point's total. Galvez and Llaneras are a great Madison pairing but in Sixes they don't seem versatile enough in all the disciplines to accumulate points and gain the bonus laps available for every 100 points won. The points and bonus laps are what can ultimately win Six Day races, a look at Amsterdam and Munich's results show they finished with points totals in the 170's. This low points total cost them two full potential bonus laps to the winners of both Sixes; the winners had point's totals well into the 300's. At Gent, the winners always accumulate points totalling 350 plus and my feeling is that the Spaniards will finish at least a few laps and that elusive couple of hundred points down.
Team 3 is the Dutch duo of Danny Stam and Peter Schep who have already won in Amsterdam and finished 3rd at Munich and Maastricht. Danny Stam was the winner - with long time partner Robert Slippens - of four Sixes in January and February of 2006, which was a remarkable run of form. This potentially dominant partnership has of course been broken due to Slippens' serious injuries and this season - World Points Race Champion - Peter Schep has stepped into Slippens' considerable shoes fairly successfully. Although already 29 years old 2005/2006 was Scheps first full season of Six Day races and he has shown himself to be a rider of undoubted class. The 'Orange koppel' should therefore be there or there abouts at the Gent Final although their obvious weakness is the lack of a fast sprint, which was of course a Slippens' forte.
In years to come when people talk about great Six Day riders they will include Bruno Risi who in Munich last week won the 41st Six Day race of his career. Now 38 years old Bruno Risi has been the strongest (regular) Six day rider over the last 13 or 14 years, although Silvio Martinello was up there with him for some years before his retirement in early 2003. Risi missed all of the Sixes in January and February 2006 following a nasty crash in Gent last November. While he was returning to full fitness Kurt Betschart his close friend, brother-in-law and partner for 37 victories retired from racing leaving Risi to carry on with changeable partners. If Betscharts retirement was a blow it's not been noticed as Risi started this season by winning the European Madison Championship and the new Maastricht Six with fellow Swiss - and his partner in World and Olympic medal rides- Franco Marvulli. He then went on to totally dominate the Dortmund Six with German road star Erik Zabel. The pair, appropriately named the 'dream team', followed that up with a win in the prestigious Munich Six last week.
For Gent Risi has been paired for the first time with the 23 year old German team pursuiter Leif Lampater, a rider Risi himself tipped as a future Six Day champion last year. Lampater showed his talent with a win at Stuttgart and a podium place in Berlin last season but his only Six Day outing so far this year was a 2nd place finish in Dortmund (with fellow German team pursuiter Guido Fulst) albeit at 2 laps behind Risi and Zabel. Lampater is currently in Australia riding the UCI Track World Cup and hopefully won't be suffering the effects of jet lag following the journey back to Europe, he only arrives back a day or two before his first Gent start. Riding with Risi should be the ultimate motivation for a Six Day rider so if Lampater has recovered they should form a classic Six day pairing, Lampater being the strong pursuiter and Risi possessing electric attacking and sprint speeds.
The other team with an outside shot at the win are the Team 5 Swiss duo Franco Marvulli and Alexander Aeschbach. The pair have won four times in Grenoble but with all due respect Grenoble is by far the weakest of all the indoor Six Day races on the calendar. Franco Marvulli, now 28, is a talented and likeable rider who excels in the scratch, points and elimination races and has shown good form achieving podium places in the past alongside Marco Villa. Alexander Aeschbach at 32 years old is a solid and established rider on the circuit but is not seen as a real 'topper'. For Marvulli winning without Bruno Risi may prove a difficult task in a hard fought Gent Six Days, and he will have an eye on the return of Zurich in December where he resumes his partnership with Risi.
The up and coming Belgium Kenny De Ketele will be looking to build on his solid first pro Gent outing last year. De Ketele, aged 21, is paired with his fellow Belgium the 22 year old Steve Schets. The duo were consistent finishers in Amateur Six Days a couple of seasons ago and the Gent the organisation will be hoping they can gain further experience and progress in 2006/2007.
Another Belgian pairing is the two 25 year olds Dimitri De Fauw and Wouter Van Mechelen. De Fauw won five Amateur Sixes with Iljo Keisse in 2003/2004 and appeared set for a big future having made his pro Gent debut in 2002. In 2003 he showed especially well in the flying lap and 500 metre time trails (TTs) but having signed with Quick-Step in 2004 De Fauw was not allowed to ride the Six days in 2004/2005. He returned to the track at Gent in 2005 but seemed somewhat out of sorts not performing in TT's or any other disciplines. Having left Quick-Step and getting back on the track, the organisation and his local Gent crowd will hope Dimitri returns to his form of 2003 and is attacking the track record over the short distances.
Munich born Christian Grassman has had some decent performances this year and at 25 looks like a classy rider who could develop into a contender in years to come. This year for his 2nd Gent start he is paired with the Berliner, and Gent first timer, Andreas Muller with whom a place in the top half of the standings will be seen as a good result. Dane Marc Hester is still only 21 years old and is another rider with a bright future on the Six Day circuit. For this, his second, Gent appearance he is paired with veteran 37 year old Italian Marco Villa, a winner of 22 Six Days mostly alongside the great Silvio Martinello. With Villa's class and experience this pair should be looking to get into the top half of the standings but a podium place is still a few years away for young Hester.
Below is the start list as of 17/11/2006:
- Isaac Galvez (Esp) - Juan Llaneras (Esp)
- Iljo Keisse (Bel) - Robert Bartko (Ger)
- Danny Stam (Ned) - Peter Schep (Ned)
- Bruno Risi (Sui) - Leif Lampater (Ger)
- Franco Marvulli (Sui) - Alexander Aeschbach (Sui)
- Andreas Beikirch (Ger) - Sebastian Frey (Ger)
- Kenny De Ketele (Bel) - Steve Schets (Bel)
- Matthe Pronk (Ned) - Aart Vierhouten (Ned)
- Dimitri De Fauw (Bel) - Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel)
- Marco Villa (Ita) - Marc Hester (Den)
- Steven De Neef (Bel) - Ingmar De Poortere (Bel)
- Andreas Muller (Ger) - Christian Grasman (Ger)
- Martin Liska (Cze) - Jozef Zabka (Cze)
The 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent - Opening Night
by Steve Penny22th November 2006
The opening night's results from the Gent Six show that your TBCC correspondent was fairly accurate in his preview.
Team 2 of Keisse / Bartko are in the lead having won the first Madison and accumulated a massive 77 point's already. Keisse will have also pleased his home crowd by winning a Derny race behind Belgian track coach and former Six Day rider Michel Vaarten.
In second place are the Dutchmen Schep and Stam, who showed well by winning the night's second Madison. In 3rd are Risi / Lampater the latter showing no effects of jetlag as yet, then in 4th are Galvez / Llaneras who despite being not losing a lap have just 26 point's so far.
One lap in arrears are Marvulli / Aeschbach and a surprising Beikirch / Frey, with Frey being a Gent debutant the German pair will be pleased with their placing so far. A further lap behind are Villa / Hester and Muller / Grassmann with the rest of the field having lost 5 and 6 laps already.
The Belgium Team 9 of De Fauw / Van Mechelen, although struggling in the chases, have started well by winning both the 1 lap and 500 metre time trials (TT). That result will have pleased the organiser Patrick Sercu as De Fauw who had little success last year in his favoured TT disciplines seems to be back on form. Fellow Belgians De Ketele and Schets appear to be struggling at 5 laps down although De Ketele will have boosted morale by winning a Derny race.
Standing after day one:1 Iljo Keisse / Robert Bartko 77 p.
2 Danny Stam / Peter Schep 54 p.
3 Bruno Risi / Leif Lampater 49 p.
4 Isaac Galvez / Juan Llaneras 26 p.
at 1 lap:5 Franco Marvulli / Alexander Aeschbach 63 p.
6 Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey 22 p.
at 2 laps:7 Marco Villa / Marc Hester 25 p.
8 Andreas Muller / Christian Grassmann 18 p.
at 5 laps:9 Dimitri De Fauw / Wouter Van Mechelen 66 p.
10 Kenny De Ketele / Steve Schets 44 p.
11 Steven Deneef / Ingmar De Poortere 7 p.
at 6 laps:12 Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka 8 p.
13 Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten 6 p.
The 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent - Day 2
by Steve Penny23th November 2006
The 2nd night of the Gent Six has seen a consolidation of the top four teams but has also seen the leaders change with those all important 'bonus laps' coming into play for every 100 points gained. Going into the last race of the night, the Derny Final, Kiesse and Bartko led on points at the top of the standings. However in this last race Schep / Stam gained enough points to go above 100, get a bonus lap and thus take the overall lead by a lap from 3 teams.
The first Madison of the night was won by Marvulli / Aeschbach from Schep / Stam and Galvez / Llaneras with big gaps again showing to the teams low down in the standings. The 2nd Madison did not have quite such big gaps but was won by Risi / Lampater. This pair had a good night with Risi winning 2 Derny races and a team elimination Race (team Devil as the English might say). Team 2 of Keisse / Bartko did not have as big a night as the first winning with Keisse winning just an Elimination race but they did build on their point's total.
The Belgians De Fauw and Van Mechelen had another good night once again winning both of the Time Trails as well as a Points and Derny race, once again they are off the pace in the chases but their objectives lie outside the overall standings. Fellow Belgians De Ketele and Schets are 11 laps down but won the Supersprint and a Derny race and are earning their pay.
Final mention to Galvez / Llaneras who again stayed close to the lead just 1 lap down but have yet to win a race. They gained just 26 points for the 2nd consecutive night and at their current rate of scoring a bonus lap won't come until Friday, which as noted in the preview may prove costly come Sunday.
Standing after day one:1 Danny Stam / Peter Schep 101 p.
at 1 lap:2 Iljo Keisse / Robert Bartko 150 p.
3 Bruno Risi / Leif Lampater 118 p.
4 Isaac Galvez / Juan Llaneras 52 p.
at 2 laps:5 Franco Marvulli / Alexander Aeschbach 116 p.
at 4 laps:6 Andreas Muller / Christian Grassmann 42 p.
at 5 laps:7 Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey 40 p.
8 Marco Villa / Marc Hester 33 p.
at 10 laps:9 Dimitri De Fauw / Wouter Van Mechelen 128 p.
at 11 laps:10 Kenny De Ketele / Steve Schets 93 p.
11 Steven Deneef / Ingmar De Poortere 18 p.
at 13 laps:12 Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka 23 p.
13 Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten 16 p.
The 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent - Day 3
by Steve Penny
24th November 2006
In the hot, smokey and intimate confines of Gents Het Kuipke velodrome Day 3 of the Gent Six Days belonged to local boys Iljo Keisse and Dimitri De Fauw. Keisse with Robert Bartko continued to score points consistently and they have a lap plus a clear 51 point lead in the overall standings. De Fauw racing with fellow Belgian Wouter Van Mechelen once again showed that he is back to his best on the track by winning both the time trials (TT). These two wins made it six out of six TT wins in the disciplines so far.
The pattern for De Fauw and Van Mechelen's night was set when they took the first event of the evening the 'leg warming' points race. In the next event Spaniards Isaac Galvez and Juan Llaneras finally broke their duck in Gent by taking the team elimination race, Galvez was clearly pleased. After beating Danny Stam to the line he punched the air in delight and beamed a big broad smile perhaps more in relief than anything else.
The evenings first 45 minute Madison gave the large crowd what they wanted, a win for Keisse and Bartko. The race was tight throughout between the top 5 teams in the standings with Andreas Muller and Christian Grassman also showing well and they were the only 'other' team holding on. With 10 laps to go Keisse / Bartko and Risi / Lampater get a lap clear and are therefore the only teams in the hunt for the nights first chase. Just 3 laps from home Risi makes an attack and he and Lampater get a 20 metre gap but Bartko then Keisse close them down and easily take the sprint to the loudest roar of the night. Galvez / Llaneras, Stam / Schep, Aeschbach / Marvulli and Muller / Grassman finish one lap down with the rest of the field struggling at between 3 and 6 laps further down.
The nights 2nd 45 minute Madison found the riders perhaps feeling the effects of a hard few days and they seemed less intent on attacking in the first half of the race. The action picked up in the last 15 minutes and saw order restored as the top 5 teams came into the last 10 laps 1 lap ahead of 3 teams with the rest at a more respectable 3 laps this time. In a rather low key last few laps the field stayed together and Risi won what was in effect a bunch sprint from Galvez, Stam, Marvulli and Keisse.
As noted earlier De Fauw and Van Mechelen had another good night especially against the clock. The opening flying (one) lap TT saw De Fauw sprint around the 166 metre track in a time of 8.73 with Schets in 8.84 and Keisse in 8.85 making it a Belgian one, two, three. Later on the 500 metre event also saw De Fauw, by coming from behind a good Van Mechelen lead out, take another bouquet in 27.76 followed by Keisse / Bartko in 28.01 and Marvulli / Aeschbach in 28.16, no other teams home in under 29 seconds.
The first Derny race of the night followed the first Madison and a much needed 20 minute pause in the racing. It was another Belgian battle as Kenny De Ketele, being paced by Michele Vaarten, just beat De Fauw, behind Rotterdam's Derny 'legend' Joop Zijlaard, to the line. Pacer Vaarten himself a former track and Six Day rider later paced Iljo Keisse to a close win ahead of Risi and Zijlaard getting Keisse his 2nd win of the night much to the crowds delight.
The nights other two Derny races saw Dutchman Peter Schep win with the other Dutch motor pacing 'legend' Bruno Walrave. In the very last race of the night Joop finally got his win pacing Van Mechelen to the win ahead of Marc Hester, with that win Van Mechelen / De Fauw top and tailed the nights racing with wins.
As reported during the Berlin Six Zijlaard had a heart attack late last year so it was great to see him back on the track at Gent where he has traditionally paced the home favourite, such as De Wilde, Gilmore and latterly Keisse. This year pacing the local favourite baton appears to have passed onto Michele Vaarten. The Derny races only give the winner 5 points towards the overall standings and really serve as more of a 'show for the crowd' - although run off at high speed they are by no means easy. Zijlaard has always played his part in the Derny racing but without the backing of the home crowd he was unable to fulfill this once customary role of the crowd pleaser, maybe tomorrow?
The rest of the nights racing
Elsewhere on this the 3rd night of the Gent Six the individual elimination race saw debutant Ingmar De Poortere take a much needed and morale boosting win for he and his Belgian partner Steven De Neef. In the Keiren race De Neef himself took his first win of the Gent Six and having lost 'only' 3 laps, when others lost 5 and 6, in the evenings first brutal Madison this pair should have gained some confidence going into the weekend.
Galvez and Llaneras scored 32 points tonight, an improvement of 6 on their Tuesday and Wednesday totals, but still 16 short of a first bonus lap. On the other hand leaders Keisse and Bartko took a 2nd bonus lap having passed 200 points, this is what gives them their 1 lap lead. Bartko seems to be suffering no ill effects of the back problems he's had after a heavy fall in Amsterdam so it bodes well for Keisse and 'his' home crowd. Risi / Lampater and Stam / Schep are holding on well, Lampater (always wearing dark glasses) and Schep both look so classy and comfortable on their bikes and they are doing their much more experienced partners proud so far.
Marvulli / Aeschbach are hovering at 3 laps behind the overall leaders and being consistent finishers have a good points total, last night saw them gain one win in the the Supersprint.
Germans Muller / Grasman had another solid night and justify Sport Director Patrick Sercus decision to give them a start ahead of some of the older German Six Day riders. The pair are averaging a loss of just 2 laps a night to the leaders and with a bonus lap in sight, winning the Scratch race in the early hours of Friday morning will have sent them to bed happy.
There are only 3 teams without a single victory in this Six so far Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey, Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten and Slovakians Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka. The latter two teams especially are having a hard time and to make matters worse Liska was a heavy faller during the first Madison. Christophe Sercu from the event organisation told me that they expect all the riders to give their best, so you have to wonder if they consider Pronk / Vierhouten and Liska / Zabka are doing this as no wins and 21 and 22 lap deficits seem poor after 3 days racing.
Standings after Day 3:1 Iljo Keisse / Robert Bartko 210 p.
at 1 lap:2 Bruno Risi / Leif Lampater 159 p.
3 Danny Stam / Peter Schep 149 p.
at 2 laps:4 Isaac Galvez / Juan Llaneras 84 p.
at 3 laps:5 Franco Marvulli / Alexander Aeschbach 166 p.
at 6 laps:6 Andreas Muller / Christian Grassmann 78 p.
at 9 laps:7 Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey 67 p.
8 Marco Villa / Marc Hester 64 p.
at 17 laps:9 Dimitri De Fauw / Wouter Van Mechelen 188 p.
10 Steven De Neef / Ingmar De Poortere 60 p.
at 18 laps:11 Kenny De Ketele / Steve Schets 141 p.
at 21 laps:12 Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten 51 p.
at 22 laps:13 Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka 33 p.
The Thursday crowd in Gent is slightly younger than that of other nights and a lot seem to come with the soul intention of drinking as much beer as possible. Even at 1am the track centre was still packed but the many empty seats does suggest not all of Thursdays crowd are racing fans.
Elsewhere Berliner and Gent debutant Andreas Muller told me he is enjoying it so far, he thinks that the crowd are similar to his native Berliners as they are working class people who come out to enjoy cycle racing. Andreas said this is not always the case in Germany were some Sixes are more about food, drink and show although he said "that is nice too".
Three days into a Six any injuries or illness will start to show and it looks like Marco Villa is struggling with possibly a saddle sore, more information if possible on that tomorrow.
As ever in Gent many former riders put on their best suits and come along for the racing, VIP food and to see old friends. Amongst those present last night was Freddie Maertens who was twice World Road Champion, won 13 stages and the 1977 Vuelta, 3 Tour Green jerseys plus 8 stages in 1976. Maertens is known to have had a lot of problems in his past but is still a celebrity in Belgium, walking around the outside of the track he was constantly hailed and stopped for photos by local fans and he seemed to be genuinely enjoying the adulation.
Etienne De Wilde as ever was also there to cast an eye over proceedings, the ever popular nine time winner of the Gent Six stopped for a very quick chat. Etienne is of the feeling that in Gent the Six is as popular as ever but he noted the need for more young 'international' riders to come through. When Etienne started in the Sixes in the early 1980s riders need to race both road and track to earn money nowadays 'name' road riders are better paid and don't have the need to come indoors during the winter, this Etienne said is just the way it is.
Aussie and longtime Belgian resident Alan Peiper was also in attendance looking remarkably trim and very dapper, possibly the best dressed man in the house. After two years with Lotto-Davitmon he is taking up a role as a Director Sportive with Team Telekom next season.
The 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent - Day 4
by Steve Penny25th November 2006
Friday night is traditionally the 'big night' of the Gent Six and another session of high speed, sweat and cigarette smoke in Het Kuipke saw the Spaniards Galvez and Llaneras step up a gear and come back strongly into contention for the podium on Sunday. For the home crowds pleasure Gent rider Dimitri De Fauw yet again confirmed his place as the fastest man against the watch. Elsewhere Risi / Lampater pulled onto the same lap as the leaders by scoring well and gaining a bonus lap for going over 200 points, Keisse / Bartko remain in the lead after a Madison win and consistent points scoring, Schep / Stam are now a lap behind after a fairly quiet night by their own high standards but are just 8 points short of the bonus lap.
The nights racing got under way with a surprise win in the points race for young Dane Marc Hester and his veteran Italian partner Marco Villa. The team elimination race then saw all the big guns in the hunt for maximum points, Danny Stam out sprinted Leif Lampater taking what turned out to be the nights only victory for he and his Dutch partner Peter Schep.
The evenings first Madison was over 40 minutes and 10 laps and turned into a high octane affair, for a 2 minute period towards the end it was impossible to know where the front and back of the field was with riders all over the track. In the end the top 4 teams came into the final 10 laps ahead of the field Galvez / Llaneras made a strong break with 6 to go but were caught just before the final bell and its left to Robert Bartko to take the sprint for the 'home team'. The result saw Aeschbach / Marvulli and Muller / Grassman just 1 lap down but this chase was carnage for some of the field. There were 3 teams that lost 5 laps, 1 team lost 6 with the Slovaks Liska / Zabka at a morale shattering 7 laps down over after just 42 minutes racing.
As it was on Thursday the 2nd chase saw inevitable tired legs, minds and bodies keep things a lot closer although this was the race when Galvez / Llaneras finally lived up to their billing among the top favourites. The Spaniards started this Madison 2 laps behind Keisse / Bartko but they seem to be getting stronger as the Six Day progresses, at one stage near the end of this chase they had a 2 lap lead over the field. In the end they settled for the victors bouquet, a 1 lap gain on the big teams but crucially 15 points that gave them their first bonus lap and 3rd place in the standings on the same lap total as the leaders.
Honorable mentions go to Aeschbach / Marvulli and Hester / Villa who chased hard to get level with the the Spaniards in the final 10 laps but the the 3 time World Madison Champions played it smart and held back to take the sprint and the aforementioned bonus lap. The Swiss pair Aeschbach / Marvulli finished 1 lap up on the leaders and their points gain gave them a bonus lap to go from 4 laps to just 2 laps down overall.
Dimitri De Fauw, with Wouter Van Mechelen, had yet another golden night against the clock taking the flying (one) lap in 8.70 from Keisse in 8.90 and Schets in 8.92 the latter pairs swapping order from Thursday. The 500 metre event saw De Fauw again led out well by Van Mechelen win in 27.86 followed again by Keisse / Bartko in 28.19 and Marvulli / Aeschbach in 28.33. Tonight Risi / Lampater also broke 29 seconds by posting 28.62.
Tonight's Derny racing saw De Fauw continue his great Six with a crowd pleasing and very close win, behind pacer Michele Vaarten, from Hester and Zijlaard in the 1st race. In the 2nd race, to the crowds disappointment, Bruno Risi and Joop Zijlaard upset the applecart by pipping Iljo Keisse and Michele Vaarten to the line, which dispels my occasional theory that the Derny race results are agreed in advance.
Heading into the small hours of Saturday morning and with the crowd thinning out Isaac Galvez continued his good night taking a race from Danny Stam and in the final event of Friday night (at 1.55am on Saturday morning in fact) Kenny De Ketele showed he keeps going literally to the end by taking the win closing another decent session for him and partner Steve Schets.
The best of the rest from Friday night
As noted Marvulli / Aeschbach gained 2 laps on the night and each of the pair took a victory individually, Marvulli in the Individual Elimination race and Aeschbach in an early hours Scratch race. Kenny De Ketele and Steve Schets had their fan club cheering them along from the back straight and Schets having again showed well in the 500 metre time trial had a satisfying win in the Keiren to send his fans home happy. Muller / Grasmann had another decent night losing just 1 lap in each of the Madison's and Muller took the Supersprint and a bonus lap that saw the Germans finish the session as they started it at a very respectable 6 laps down in 6th place.
Marco Villa and Marc Hester had a good night and your writers theory that Villa may have a problem did not seem to be true. Risi / Lampater kept up the pressure scoring petty well and gaining a bonus lap. Robert Bartko is also going well and seems to be fine health wise, Iljo Keisse is looking really strong and despite some good performances from other the teams they remain the pair to beat.
Further down the standings still no joy breaking the duck for Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey, Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten or Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka although Pronk and Vierhouten came close with 2nd places in 2 late night / early morning races.
Standings after Day 3:1 Iljo Keisse / Robert Bartko 261 p.
2 Bruno Risi / Leif Lampater 213 p.
3 Isaac Galvez / Juan Llaneras 113 p.
at 1 lap:4 Danny Stam / Peter Schep 192 p.
at 2 laps:5 Franco Marvulli / Alexander Aeschbach 229 p.
at 6 laps:6 Andreas Muller / Christian Grassmann 108 p.
at 11 laps:7 Marco Villa / Marc Hester 95 p.
at 15 laps:8 Andreas Beikirch / Sebastian Frey 93 p.
at 23 laps:9 Dimitri De Fauw / Wouter Van Mechelen 238 p.
at 24 laps:10 Steven De Neef / Ingmar De Poortere 89 p.
at 25 laps:11 Kenny De Ketele / Steve Schets 187 p.
at 27 laps:12 Matthe Pronk / Aart Vierhouten 91 p.
at 31 laps:13 Martin Liska / Jozef Zabka 41 p.
Elsewhere around Het Kuipke
Friday night brings out the many Belgian ex pros and although no expert I spotted amongst others former Tour winner Lucien Van Impe, Discovery Channel Director Sportives Dirk Demol and (former Six Day rider) Lorenzo Lapage, Quick-Step Director (and also former Six dayer) Rik Van Slycke, Jo Planckeart and local legend Etienne De Wilde were once again in the house.
Also in attendance was recently retired Danish Six Day rider Jimmi Madsen who has started a Danish based company that sells cycling and athletics clothing so he was catching up with old friends and looking to make some business contacts.
Bruno Risi - Alpine Express still rolling on
Before the start of tonight's racing I was able to sit down and talk to Six Day great and still, even at 38, the best rider on the track Bruno Risi. With long time partner for a record 37 Six Day wins Kurt Betschart retiring in the summer you would be excused for thinking that Bruno himself might be winding down, well think again as after 3 Six Day wins already this season its business as usual for the Switz.
I wanted to know about Kurt Betscharts decision to quit, Bruno explains "for a couple of years I've sensed his motivation was not as it was, although his performances were still good, but he had NOT decided to retire after the last Six Day season. He was still training and riding some road races in the summer then went to work at the Tour of Switzerland in the publicity caravan and was off the bike for 4 weeks. After these weeks off he never started again and made the decision to retire". I said that I thought it was a shame that Kurt did not get a send off from the public but Bruno noted that he had attended and been introduced to the crowds in Amsterdam and Munich.
With the Zurich Six back on the calendar I asked how Bruno he thought it might go "I'm hopeful that it will be successful, there has been a lot of media interest and at the announcing press conference there were a large number of journalists and 2 TV stations covering the story. Also in Munich they got some additional publicity and so the promotion seems to be going well but it is not always easy to attract new fans so for now we will have to wait and see how it goes".
Bruno's immediate future is confirmed as he told me "I'm going to the Beijing Olympics with Franco (Marvulli) for the Madison and we have the backing of the Switz Federation for that, I will then ride the winter season after the Olympics then we'll see".
At present is with some of the old guard retiring we need new Six Day riders and Bruno has a view "riders who start on the track will always want to try the road, the possibility to make better money is on the road. Some riders make it others don't and come back to the track Bartko is one example. Lampater is a good rider who I have noticed for sometime and of course there is Keisse so riders do come through. This winter in Munich the Six had very a big crowd again with Zabel and Bettini riding. Bettini has said that the public were fantastic and that 'Six Days are cycling as it should be unlike the Pro Tour' so with these guys giving such positive publicity I think that Six Day racing will survive ok".
Bruno Risi is truly a gentleman of the track and with more Six Days on the calendar look out for him to continue his success until at least February 2009 which means with 41 wins already under his belt he could yet still hit the magical 50.
Life with Leif
I also managed to have a very quick word with Leif Lampater who recalled our conversation in Berlin earlier this year. Leif said "I've recovered OK from the jet lag flying straight here from Australia and of course it's great to ride with Risi, who wouldn't enjoy that... its an honor". He also said "I didn't expect the stadium to be so big and there to be such a good public, so I'm fully motivated for this Six Day and of course yes I hope to be back in the future".
Bruno Risi told me Leif had a stomach problem while in Australia, but Leif himself did not mention it, which says that he is not after excuses.
Our Six Day correspondent Steve, will follow him closely here in Gent and again at Berlin in January.
The 66th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Gent - Day 5
Isaac Galvez Lopez Eulogy
Isaac Galvez and Juan Llaneras
11/25/2006 - 9:09 P.M.
"Due to the tragic death of Isaac Galvez in Gent on Saturday night, the TBCC 6-Day Racing website does not feel it appropriate to post any further results or comments about the sporting aspects of the 2006 Gent Six Days.
We would, however, like to send our sincerest condolences to the Galvez Family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this terrible time"
Steve, Arnold and Eugene
11/24/2006 - 11:02 P.M.
The cycling world was deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Spanish track and road star Isaac Galvez. Galvez was a unique cyclist with the skills and speed of a sprinter and the endurance of a seasoned road racer. Galvez and his partner Juan Llaneras have twice been World Madison Champions in 1999 and 2006. Galvez raced well in the Tour de France, Giro d' Italia, the Spanish vueltas. He has 12 race victories in 6 years as a professional.