Monday, April 22, 2024

Copenhagen Six Day 2009 – Day 5


HomeDiariesCopenhagen Six Day 2009 - Day 5

Susie, my chow chow would love these meat balls; cold, greasy, smelly with around one percent meat content; it’s a pity she’s not here at the Copenhagen Six Day – but think how awful it would be if she bit Danny Stam.

Dinner time at the restaurant; day one the food was cool, but as the week goes on, the menu refuses to budge and the temperature of the food drops; ‘not good for riders to eat cold pasta,’ says Ronnie our number two soigneur.

Ronnie saves the day; he’s been ‘making massage’ to the guy who owns the restaurant and a gorgeous pizza arrives for him, of which I get half — those Belgian guys aren’t all bad.

Day five in Copenhagen, the food may be getting colder but the racing is getting hotter.The biggest race on the card is the 75 kilometre handicap chase; where the big teams give away up to six laps on the little teams.

Copenhagen Six Day

But that’s not ‘til 22.30; there’s a lot to do before then.

Exile and the O’jays take me through my helmet and shoe cleaning routine; Franco has a MET helmet and Northwave shoes, Alex and Michael are co-ordinated (you’d expect nothing less from two of Bjarne’s boys) on Bell helmets and Specialized shoes(with ‘wind-up’ wire closure system — cool) and Jens-Erik is with MET and Shimano.

Jens-Erik said to me yesterday; ’Ed, what are these wipes for?’ ‘I use them to clean your helmet and shoes, every day Jens.

Really!’ he replied; being a runner is just like being a housewife, no one appreciates you.

Copenhagen Six Day
Franco messes around while the amateurs race.

Franco arrives to read, text and Skype from the trackside cabin, he doesn’t like the claustrophobia of the main cabin, which is below the track; I know what he means, the air down there is heavy and stale. If he wants to chat, that’s cool, but if he’s thoughtful, I just work round him and give him peace.

Should I train or have a sleep, Ed?’ ‘Do a few laps Franco, loosen the legs off.

He laps the track with Michael Mørkøv’s brother, Jesper who is also riding the six — more on him later.

Copenhagen Six Day
Tony Doyle (23) and Patrick Sercu (88) – 111 six wins between them!

It’s ‘Mini-Six’ time and the track has to be cleared to allow the stars of the future to do their thing — legs whirl at a furious rate on restricted gears and the hand slings are better than any I’ve ever given.

Copenhagen Six Day
Keeping an eye on the young ‘uns, Franco shoots the breeze with his fellow pro’s.

The music is great, 60’s and 70’s pop; ‘Chicory Tip’ with ‘Son of my Father,’ jeez, I haven’t heard that in ages, the first UK number one to feature a synthesiser, written by Giorgio Moroder – I wish I had a recycle bin in my head!

UIV Cup time; that’s the sixes for the Under-23 riders. Back in the 70’s we used to watch the amateur sixes at Gent; it was like a more violent version of Rollerball — Maurice Burton’s backside spent more time on the boards than it did in the saddle.

Copenhagen Six Day
Mini-six winners.

If you’ve ever wondered how agents do their job of finding young talent; there’s ex-Tour of Flanders winner Rolf Sørensen trackside, encouraging the young Danes.

The Danish media re going crazy with Alex and Michael; today they were even filming them putting their shoes on.

Copenhagen Six Day
Alex and Michael can’t really relax – their every move is captured by Danish TV.

There’s Bruno; he skips up the stairs, he’s recovered from that virus he had — one look tells me that.

Patrick Sercu has arrived, there must be deals to be done, that cell phone is a fixture on his ear; when I was a boy he was my idol.

I saw him once in a nocturne (night criterium, under the street lights) in Concarneau; he had on matching black and white patent leather shoes and helmet, Brooklyn shorts and his recently acquired Tour de France green jersey, astride his sparkling blue Gios Torino he was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a God.

Copenhagen Six Day
Patrick Sercu makes another deal – the closest thing Ed’s ever seen to a God.

Flying lap time and Dirk slides the rear discs into Michael’s Principia and Alex’s Pinarello — Dirk tells me that the rear fork ends on the Pinarellos are so hard that it’s difficult to get the track nuts to bite; he has to rough them with a file.

Jacob Moe comes in, his mechanic is AWOL and he puts his hand out for me to pull him to a stop; with some soigneurs this is seen as bad protocol — they think you’re trying to poach their rider.

Schep/Stam get 13.43 for the lap, Marvulli/Risi 13.40 — yes, Bruno’s better tonight.

Alex and Michael are up and rolling for their turn earlier than usual — that’s a good sign. And the watch confirms it with 13.01 — more flowers.

Tayeb Braikia, who is one of the race officials drops in to congratulate his countrymen, Tayeb won this six in 1999, he was a Danish champion on road and track; winning road races in the US, Scandinavia and Europe, including the GC of the Circuit Franco Belge.

Copenhagen Six Day
l to r: Alex, Tayeb Brakia, and Michael.

The Ballerup Gran Prix is next; a knock out sprint series. Franco goes down to home boy Mark Hester, who’s quick, but not Franco quick. Hester milks the applause as Franco flashes me a wink from the banking.

Interview time and I wander round to see Daniel “Born in the USA” Holloway and his Garmin team mate Colby Pearce — cool guys and their words will be on Pez soon.

Copenhagen Six Day
Daniel “Born in the USA” Holloway and Colby Pearce.

Sebastián Donadi­o the Six Day man-cum-singer from Argentina comes to see me, he wants my pictures for his Facebook page; ‘no problem, Sebastian.

Copenhagen Six Day
Sebastián Donadio.

There’s a Madison behind the derny; Alex and Michael cruise to the win.

Balustrade sprint time and it’s Tim Mertens who leads the string as; ‘almost heaven, West Virginia’ pumps out; Tim isn’t bad, but he’s not Daniel Holloway.

Copenhagen Six Day
Tim Mertens leads the black number riders Balustrade sprint.

Next up, it’s the man from North Ca. himself, leading the entire field high on the bankings; getting Brian May’s guitar solo in ‘We will rock you,’ down to a ‘tee,’ behind him riders clap, but no one else tries to handle the Stratocaster.

Copenhagen Six Day
Søren Lilholt – GPE3 winner. Respect

It’s almost chase time; but there’s Søren Lilholt and it’s not every day you meet a GPE3 winner; ‘…but you want to know how I win, Ed?

Yes, of course, Søren!’ I reply, like a school kid, completely forgetting that three of the world’s best six day riders are supposed to be the focus of my attention. ‘There are 12 of us in the final, I can beat them all in the sprint, I know it, but I take no chances and jump them, riding alone, winning on my own.

Kris gently reminds me that we’ve got a 75 kilometre Madison about to start; I shake hands with Søren and wish him well.

The E3 wasn’t his only big win; he was world junior road race champion in 1983, won the Tour of Luxembourg, Route Adelie, Danish pro road championship and a stage in Paris Nice.

Copenhagen Six Day
Eddy the mechanic.

‘Cara Mia’ blasts; ‘…darling you’ll be mine, ‘til the eeennd of time!’ wails Tony Christie – the lap board is more pragmatic; ‘300 laps,’ is all it has to say.

Most sixes run chases over a maximum one hour, this one will be closer to one-and-a-half hours; and there’s a catch — the big teams are ‘giving away’ up to six laps on the small teams.

The capo should pull this back, but they have to race for it; there’s no settling in, Marvulli/Risi, Stam/Schep, Rasmussen/Mørkøv and de Ketele/Mertens set about the job from the gun. Franco and Bruno in particular look great — like overall winners, maybe.

It’s not that the little teams go out of the back, they just don’t have the engines to take lap gains and their lead slides like ‘snow off a dyke,’ as we say in Scotland.

Copenhagen Six Day
Rolf Sørensen gets involved in events!

What’s supposed to happen in the script is that the head boys snuff out the advantage towards the end and fight it out among themselves; but Jesper Mørkøv and his Austrian partner, Andreas Muller haven’t read that page.

There’s a lull and ‘Mini Mørkøv’ attacks. The big teams think, ‘what the ?

Big brother, Michael just happens to be on Jesper’s wheel and swings up, the gap opens, the crowd is on it’s feet. The big guns think, ‘this is good for the show,’ and let them take the lap — they know that the youngsters have no chance in the sprint.

The organiser isn’t happy and tells Kris that Michael should have shut his brother down; maybe he was an only child?

Risi is riding like a scalded Swiss polecat tonight, there’s now way they’ll loose this one.