Sunday - 70th Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Ghent
by Steve Penny
After looking close all week, Saturday nights racing left the 70th Ghent Six looking like a two horse race between Iljo Keisse / Peter Schep and Kenny De Ketele / Leif Lampater. With the speed of Keisse and the endurance of Schep it is their race to lose. The De Ketele / Lampater team have worked well together but despite De Keteles determination and Lampaters class neither man looked as strong as the leaders and getting a lap clear looks a tough ask, but it's not impossible. After tiring late last night Rasmussen / Morkov have a mountain to climb, by gaining laps, if they are to pull off back to back victories.
I got the thoughts of a former winner of both the Pro and Amateur Six Marco Villa before the start of Sundays racing: "I've watched every night until the end of the first Madison and I think that Keisse is racing angry, he really wants this one. De Ketele / Lampater are good too but not as strong. The Danes of course have quality but I think they had very long seasons on the road and are not as good here as last year. Of course Rasmussen is fast but I don't think this track suits him so much".
Sprints: - Starting the final session where the 10 bonus sprints, Marvulli /Aeschbach getting a win as they warm up for the Zurich Six-Day that starts on Tuesday.
Team Elimination Race: - Of the top 3 teams only Keisse / Schep made a run at this one with De Ketele / Lampater and Rasmussen Morkov no doubt trying to hold something back for the finale. The winners were Stam / Van Bon who've stayed close to the lead without ever being on top.
Flying Lap Time Trial (TT): - Once again Dutchman Wim Stroetinga showed he's got stronger as the week progressed and today clocked a blistering best time of the week with 8.70 (68,690kmph). He and his partner Jens Mouris are part of a large Dutch contingent here that will have their sights on the World track Championships on home soil next March.
Derny Races: - The final crowd pleasing races saw wins for Iljo Keisse (who else) and Kenny De Ketele both paced by Michel Vaarten.
Individual Elimination Race: - After a torrid week in the chases Steve Schets had some cheer by out sprinting the singing Argentinean Sebastian Donadio.
500 Metre TT: - It was once again Iljo Keisse and Peter Schep that won the TT in 28.15 from Mouris / Stroetinga who clocked the same time but were a few hundredths of a second slower.
Sprints: - As if the riders needed to, they have one last chance to just stretch their legs before the finale in a 60 lap race. With 6 bonus sprints the winners were the 'other' Danish team of Madsen / Hester who have had a good Six-Days.
Standings before the Finale:
1. Keisse - Schep 384 points 2. De Ketele - Lampater 325 At 1 Lap: 3. Rasmussen - Morkov 322 4. Bartko - Hondo 259 5. Stam - Van Bon 246 At 2 Laps: 6. Marvulli - Aeschbach 301
Finale of the 70th Z6daagse Vlaanderen-Gent:
With the standings not being as close as they looked like they were going to be a couple of days ago the final chase never really caught fire and Keisse / Schep looked in control from the start. Over the last few days Keisse has received all the public's adulation but he will be the first to recognise what a great job Peter Schep did in controlling the field time and time again. Every time De Ketele / Lampater tried to break away they were always reeled back in and although with 17 laps to go they made their best attack of the day they never gained more than 50 metres on the bunch. With Schep pulling the peleton around with 7 laps to go Keisse put the final nail in De Ketele and Lampaters coffin by flying past and he and Schep powered around finishing half a lap clear of the field for Keisses 4th and Scheps first win here. The only other change was for the 3rd podium place as the heavily marked Danes Rasmussen / Morkov were beaten by a strong finishing Bartko / Hondo. This just wasn't their race.
For Kenny De Ketele it was another brave effort and he and Lampater worked well but neither has the real zip to get a gap and hold the field off in the fast chases. To win here in front of his public, Kenny will need to be paired with a fast guy to match his obvious grit and determination.
After a torrid six months Iljo Keisse exorcised his demons, for the time being, and in the comfort of his home surroundings got his lap of honour to chants of "Iljo, Iljo, Iljo". He then spent more than half an hour doing interviews with local media and was able to leave Het Kuipke a very satisfied man.
What they said:
Peter Schep - winner: - "Of course I'm really happy winning a big Six-Day like Ghent. We just had to concentrate and try to control the other guys, which of course is not easy and we still had to ride hard. I'm off to Australia for the World Cup and training then we come back for our Nationals and then the Rotterdam Six where I am riding with Theo Bos".
Michael Morkov - 4th: - "Not such an exciting finale this year. We were not at the same level as last year when we were really super strong with 3 Six-Days already in our legs. The first days were ok but really in the end we played no part in the finale. Ghent is a hard Six-Day always with a strong field, so we knew it would be hard. Iljo was very good, better than I thought but also Schep was really strong and without him they don't win. I'm going to ride with Alex (Rasmussen) in Berlin and Copenhagen and we should be better then. I'm also in Rotterdam but I'm not sure who I will ride with…"
1. Keisse - Schep 406 points 2. De Ketele - Lampater 345 3. Bartko - Hondo 275 At 1 Lap: 4. Rasmussen - Morkov 346 5. Stam - Van Bon 254 At 2 Laps: 6. Marvulli - Aeschbach 301 At 7 Laps: 7. Madsen - Hester 149 At 14 Laps: 8. Mouris / Stroetinga 160 At 18 Laps: 9. Mertens / Ligthart 279 At 20 Laps: 10. Roberts / Kneisky 111 At 31 Laps: 11. Donadio / Vermeulen 155 At 35 Laps: 12. Van Der Sande / Muller 92 At 46 Laps: 13. De Neef / Schets 114
Around Het Kuipke:
With the Iljo Keisse doping case still not resolved, the organisation and riders had an unannounced visit from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) during the week. They took 6 riders from the top 6 teams away during the programme to be tested, including Keisse of course. The Organisation was not pleased with what they saw as an invasion and felt that the UCI has the doping control in order and in line with normal protocol. They also sent controllers around the cabins during the evening and Patrick Sercu noted that this noticeably unsettled the riders and contributed to some below standard racing.
Overall though, the Organisation said the Six-Days had been a commercial success with 42,000 spectators in attendance and all but Tuesday night was a sell out or close to sold out. They are happy that the tradition and culture of the Ghent Six remains intact and it was noted that the track centre is the hub of the spectators and will remain so and never be used for hosting corporate sponsors as is the culture at other Six-Day races. It was also noted that the track will remain permanent as it has always been and organisers of other events in the hall will have to adapt, having a removable track is not an option. On the sporting side Sercu declared that he was happy with all the top riders. The lead up to the Six-Days was very stressful for all concerned with the aforementioned Iljo Keisse situation. It was noted that a lot of the riders did come into Ghent after rest periods and so some took time to find there legs but overall he had no complaints. Sercu was happy with 19 year old Tosh Van Der Sande and he said it is not an easy Six-day to make your debut in, but Tosh impressed the public at times with his fight and this bodes well for future Ghent Sixes.
South Australian Luke Roberts has been away from the Six-Days for a couple of years, with the exception of Grenoble last year, after getting a contract with Milram to ride the road. He was finding the first few days a bit tough coming into such a hard Six-Day as Ghent but got better as the week progressed and is another of the riders starting in Zurich on Tuesday. After that he'll start to prepare for the road season and is looking forward to riding for and helping to build up the Australian Pegasus Sports team who missed out on a place in Pro-Tour for 2011.
UIV Cup for Riders Under 23:
Despite a hard fought final Madison without a big field on the track the 3 top teams just marked each other all the way and there was no change from last night. The Swiss pairing of Claudio Imhof / Silvan Dillier held off the Aussies Alex Carver / Jackson Law and Brits Jonathan Mould and Simon Yates, dominating the bonus sprints along the way. The Swiss team will fly home and have an altogether different proposition next week as they'll ride with the professionals in the Zurich Six-Day.
Final 'Memorial Noel Fore - Toekomstzesdaagse' Standings:
1. Imhof / Dillier (Swi) 121 points 2. Carver / Law (Aus) 101 3. Mould / Yates (GB) 66 At 1 lap: 4. Lander / Kreutzfeldt (Den) 49