by Steve Penny
British 6-Day Correspondent
23 November 2012
Here in Ghent, Friday night has always been the big night of the Six. Its not just about the beer, it's about the cycling, and fans of all ages bring the wife or girlfriend to what is for all concerned, a big night out. A number of the revellers are ex-riders, many of whom no doubt spend the night reminiscing on their time pedalling around the hollowed boards of Het Kuipke.
The programme again started with the Team Elimination (or Devil). For as long as I can remember since coming here, this is a race the leaders always go for. Tonight the 20 points were snapped up by the improving Silvan Dillier (with Robert Bartko), in a 2 up sprint with Iljo Keisse. The Swiss / German pairing are starting to make a run at the podium. In 3rd were De Ketele / Van Hoecke.
Wim Stroetinga came back into the race recovering from stomach problems, but his self confessed dislike of the Elimination race meant this one offered no pointers to his condition.
After taking 2nd in the first race, Keisse and Glenn O'Shea got back to their winning ways, taking the team point's race.
On Wednesday Tristan Marguet broke the track record posting 8.57 seconds. Tonight he again flew around the track at 70kmph and lowered the record further with a new time of 8.56 (70.09kmph). Suffice to say, he and Franco Marvulli deservedly milked the applause. It was also good to see the ear to ear grin return to the face of Marvulli, something that's been missing for a few years here. The fast rising Dillier / Bartko took 2nd in 8.76.
The first chase was nip and tuck all the way, before Dillier and Bartko snuck away with 2 laps remaining to win it. Despite taking 2nd, O'Shea looked like he lost a bit of power towards the end, unless he was just holding something back. At this stage of the night, O'Shea / Keisse appeared to be gaining the edge points wise on Van Hoecke / De Ketele, but that changed again as the night progressed.
This was a good return to the chases for Schep / Stroetinga who didn't lose any laps. Also continuing to show well were Hester / Hansen and Mertens / De Buyst. At the other end of the scale, South African Tristan Hoffman looks tired, and the bottom 3 teams in the standings took another pasting, finishing between 5 and 7 laps behind in a 45 minute race.
As reported last night, the story this week is of the last Ghent appearance for veteran pacer, Joop Zijlaard. Tonight the 4 Derny races on the programme went too Leif Lampater, Gijs Van Hoecke, Iljo Keisse (in a real crowd pleaser) behind the aforementioned Ziljaard and Peter Schep.
After losing 7 laps in the Madison, Nicky Cocquyt finally found some cheer taking this one from Morgan Kneisky.
No record in this one tonight, but another win for Marguet and Marvulli in a time of 27.220 from Dillier / Bartko (27.640). The Swiss will head home for the 'Zurich Six-day Nights' as it's now called (it's a 4 day race, sadly no longer a Six), with good form and morale.
The 2nd chase saw the rivalry between Keisse / O'Shea and De Ketele / Van Hoecke intensify. After they gained a lap on the field, it appeared Keisse wasn't happy at being out sprinted by De Ketele, but gained enough points for a bonus lap passing 300 for the week so far.
A couple of the leading teams went in search of points in this one, Van Hoecke beating Dillier in the sprint where both teams gained points for a bonus lap - De Ketele / Van Hoecke passing 300 and Dillier / Bartko surpassing 200.
This one was just a straight A-B Scratch race won by Morgan Kneisky. The main excitement being the riders getting the crowd involved as they revved up for the sprint to the sound of 'The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)'.
Rounding off the programme, the big boys again opted for an early shower during the 6 eliminations, leaving the rest to it, the winners being the French team of Kneisky / Brisse taking 2 in a row.
1. Keisse (Bel) - O'Shea (Aus) 308 points 2. De Ketele - Van Hoecke (Bel) 305 At 1 Lap: 3. Bartko (Ger) - Dillier (Swi) 205 At 2 Laps: 4. Hansen - Hester (Den) 179 At 4 Laps: 5. Schep - Stroetinga (Ned) 109 At 5 Laps: 6. Marvulli - Marguet (Swi) 202 At 6 Laps: 7. De Buyst - Mertens (Bel) 180 At 7 Laps 8. Kneisky - Brisse (Fra) 148 At 12 Laps: 9. Van der Sande (Bel) - Lampater (Ger) 108 At 21 Laps: 10. Grasmann (Ger) - Hoffman (RSA) 67 At 26 Laps: 11. Coquyt - De Pauw (Bel) 92 At 28 Laps: 12. Stahr (Ger) - Müller (Aut) 50 At 34 Laps: 13. Breyne - Schets (Bel) 87
Amongst the sell out Friday crowd was the Kenny De Ketele 'supporters club'. About 150 people wearing rainbow banded cycling caps, resplendent with an image of a steaming kettle (De Ketele translates as 'the kettle'), cheered on their man, and his 'Movember' moustache, from the back straight. The supporter's clubs having long been a feature of Belgian cycling, no matter how well known the rider is. The club may just consist of family, friends and neighbours, but no matter how big or small, it must be nice to have a group people cheering just for you.
Keeping a low profile (in the house tonight) was Freddy Maertens, the two time World Road Champion. During his often controversial career he also won 3 Green jerseys and 16 stages at the Tour De France. His greatest period of success was whilst wearing the rainbow jersey in 1977, when he won the Vuelta (overall) and 13 stages. The Vuelta was run in late April / May (pre 1995) and he went from Spain to the Giro to win 7 stages before he sustained a broken wrist, following a crash, and had to abandon.
A familiar face in Het Kuipke is Etienne De Wilde, known as the 'blond arrow', winning here 9 times between 1983 and 1997. He was 'the guy' locals came out to cheer on, until he finished his Ghent Six career with a 3rd place in 2001, at the age of 43.
Tonight the Sport Directors from the Copenhagen Six, Jimmi Madsen and Michael Sandstod were in attendance. The quiet Dane won here with Scott McGrory in 1999 and was 6 times on the podium despite never really having a regular partner after Jens Veggerby retired in 1998. Last night, Madsen and Marty Nothsteins track record for the 500 metre TT was broken.