Friday - 71st Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Ghent
by Steve Penny
71st Six-Days of Ghent
Friday night at the Ghent Six has always been the day when the real cycling fans come out. As reported, Thursday was a sell out, but the crowd was predominantly corporate guests and general festival revellers. Tonight is the night for the ex-bike riders, the Flemish bike racing fans and the supporters clubs of the local racers. These supporters clubs normally turn out in the same tee shirt or colours and help create a good atmosphere inside the old building.
Five teams started the night on the same lap and after a low key first half of the Six Days, the riders will be expected to provide a more interesting spectacle for the aforementioned cycling fans.
Klassement Sprint (point’s race): - The Swiss prospects Dillier – Imhof opened the evening session with another win. Providing fatigue doesn’t set in they’ll be heading home to the Zurich Six in good shape, physically and mentally.
Team Elimination Race: - The first big points of the night are always on offer in the team elimination (devil takes the hindmost). The young Belgian hope Tosh Van Der Sande outsprinted Christian Grasmann who appeared to continue where they left off last night, taking 12 points for 2nd place.
Once again Wim Stroetinga was badly positioned and eliminated early, missing out on points. It didn’t prove too costly though as Bartko - De Ketele also missed out on the top places gaining just 4 points. The general consensus is that Bartko is not as strong as he has been in previous years and without Keisse in the race there is added pressure on his partner Kenny De Ketele to win as the local favourite.
Flying Lap Time Trial (TT): - Despite his elimination race struggles, Wim Stroetinga once again proved to be the fastest in the flying lap as he stormed around the tight curves of the 166 metre track at over 69 kmph to clock the fastest time here in nearly 10 years of 8.670 seconds (69.2014 kmph). Beaten into second were De Ketele – Bartko who clocked an impressive time themselves of 8.870 (67.641 kmph).
1st Madison (45 minutes): - The first chase tonight restored the status quo to this year’s Z6s Daagse as Bartko – De Ketele won by a lap and with it took a bonus lap for reaching 200 points.
Without out Iljo Keisse there is a lack of 'panache' amongst the riders, as the crowd like to see racing with style and a bit of showmanship. The need for some excitement in this race has, I think, been countered by the need to keep the race close going into the weekend, but in this 45 minute chase, De Ketele seemed to decide enough was enough by attacking late and putting on a good performance for the crowd.
Derny Racing: - The first of the four Derny races was won by Leon Van Bon, behind the man who doesn’t need prompting to put on a show for the fans, Joop Ziljaard!!! The second race was another crowd pleaser, giving Tosh Van der Sande, in his second Ghent Six, the win behind former track sprinter and Six Day rider, Michel Vaarten.
Approaching 1:00am local time, De Ketele and Peter Schep brought the crowd to there feet in a ding dong last few laps before De Ketele went across the line first, sending his fan club home happy. The younger Ziljaard (Ron) paced Claudio Imhof to yet another win for the 21 year old Swiss.
Individual Elimination Race (1): - After struggling through the Madison races all week, Marcel Barth won the first individual elimination race for his team. He and Robert Bengsch can thank the fact that the Czech team are struggling more than them, thus keeping them from propping up the standings. The more experienced of the two Czechs Martin Blaha has been neutralised due to illness or injury.
500 Metre TT: - Like the flying lap, the 500 Metre TT has been won by Schep - Stroetinga every night and tonight was no exception... they even went faster in a time of 27.840 (64,655 kmph). Repeating last nights result in second were Imhof – Dillier with 28.220 (63,785 kmph) from Bartko - De Ketele, 28.250 (63,717 kmph).
2nd Madison (30 minutes): - The second chase again saw most of the teams remain within a lap, although to be fair, Bartko – De Ketele did try twice to break away in the last 5 to 10 minutes, but each time Stroetinga – Schep chased and brought them back into the stretched out bunch. In between those attacks, Hester – Kneisky and Mertens – Stam did manage to gain a lap and 39 year old Danny Stam, in his last Ghent Six, set it up for Mertens to finish off easily from Hester. The Dane with young Frenchman Kneisky continue to show well, and after the chase, sat in 3rd place overall.
Individual Elimination Race (2): - On Monday, Tosh Van Der Sande will be just 21 years old and the former World Junior Points Race Champion won another bouquet in this elimination race. He has the boyish looks and riding style to become a darling of Het Kuipke in years to come, but as ever in modern cycling, road team success and commitment will dictate whether he has a future in this historic and specialised form of racing.
After a slight blip on Thursday night, it is once again set up for Kenny De Ketele to gain his first Ghent Six win. His partner Robert Bartko is looking for his third victory in Het Kuipke, and realistically, it’ll take something special or unexpected to stop them.
Standings after 4 Nights (@ 01.20):
1. Bartko - De Ketele 232 points @ 1 Lap: 2. Stroetinga - Schep 238 3. Kneisky - Hester 230 4. Mertens - Stam 169 @ 2 Laps: 5. Grasmann – Marvulli 259 6. Lampater - Van Der Sande 197 @ 4 Laps: 7. O’Shea - Roberts 137 @ 5 Laps: 8. Muller - De Neef 82 @ 6 Laps: 9. Dillier – Imhof 186 @ 7 Laps: 10. Van Bon - Aeschbach 108 @ 11 Laps: 11. Edmuller - Morkov 62 @ 12 Laps: 12. Barth - Bengsch 85 @ 17 Laps: 13. Hacecky - Blaha 49
'Memorial Noel Fore' – UIV-Under 23 Race:
The under-23 race saw the British pair Doull and Yates hold onto there the lead. They took a lap lead from the field to win tonight's 200 lap Madison, and that lap is also their lead overall after they failed to pick up any points in the evenings 500 metre time trial. The only potential challengers are Dutchmen, Van Zijl and Caspers, who actually have a better points total, but have work to do to gain back the lap in another dangerous edition of the 'Toekomst Zesdaagse' (futures Six-Day).