Monday, April 22, 2024

Grenoble Six Day 2009 – Day One; Settling in


HomeDiariesGrenoble Six Day 2009 - Day One; Settling in

I’m sitting beside the track, settling in, it’s nearly 3:00 pm on Friday, and last night seems like a long time ago.

Gianni Meersman and Iljo Keisse are up training, they rattle past every 20 seconds – legs have to be kept loose.

Settling in
Iljo Keisse is looking good just now.

The soigneurs and mechanics were all hovering round the stadium gate at 10:00 am, yesterday – like drinkers round the door of Fallin Miners Welfare on a Sunday forenoon.

Settling in
That’s our camper on the right, outside the eye-catching stadium.

There’s a lot to do and everyone is keen to get it done and relax before the whirlwind of the evening racing.

The downstairs cabin is base camp – cooking, eating, showering, clothes washing and massage all take place there.

Settling in
Kris massages Franco.

We’ve got the big cabin, which gives us plenty of room for fridges, microwaves, grills, massage tables, washing machines and all the other stuff.

Once the cabin is converted into a home from home – it’s time to sort out the trackside cabins; where the riders relax between races.

You need pillows, blankets, biscuits, sweeties, drinks, energy bars, cakes, gels, massage stuff – and of course, the pee pails.

Once that’s done, the guys start to arrive – most drive with at least one other rider, to keep costs down.

Settling in
Daniel gets a rub from Kris.

Their gear has to be sorted, then they need to loosen stiff legs – on the road for Jens-Erik and Daniel; on the boards for Franco and Tristan.

Settling in
Daniel looks relaxed.
Settling in
Tristan waits for the racing to start.

The two Swiss came down with compatriot, Alexander Aeschbach – the car was like a Pickfords van, and positively no room for road bikes.

Massage is next, then food; which we have to prepare in the cabin – mozzarella and tomato salad, steak and rice.

Settling in
Franco deep in conversation.

Then it’s rest before the presentation and “game on!”

The programme at Grenoble isn’t a killer; cycling is just part of it – a juggler, contortionists, strongman, acrobats, singers, magicians and the topless ‘folies’ girls all play their part in keeping the paying public happy – because that’s what it’s all about.

Settling in
Acrobats, dancers and bikes make a great show.
Settling in
Les Folies in action.

There’s a good schoolboy, junior and ladies programme too – before the six proper starts.

Settling in
Gregory Bauge is here, taking part in the sprint events.

As usual, there’s gossip aplenty – Andreas Kappes, former Het Volk winner and a big rider in the Sixes, has ended up working as an office cleaner – but one of the mechanics has saved him from that ignominious fate by employing him as ‘second mechanic’ to the team he works for – better than hoovering, anyway.

Settling in
Franco has four wins here to his credit.

Franco is keen to win here – that would give him five victories in the ‘Capital of the Alps’ – but Iljo has similar notions.

It’ll be down to their partners – for me, the experienced Luke Roberts will be too strong for Gianni Meersman.

But Keisse is strong, fast and wily and Franco says that Meersman is going very well – it’ll be a good battle.

Settling in
Luke throws Franco in.

The French guys are a little (well, maybe a lot!) out of their depth, here – some can’t even hold the peloton.

Contract fees have been slashed at Munich – one of the world’s great Sixes is now clinging to the edge by it’s finger nails.

London is “guaranteed” for next season but we’ve been hearing that since the last one was held in the early 80’s.

Settling in
Keisse leads the string.

The racing wasn’t amazing, but it’s the first night and there’s a little bit of settling in to do.

Tonight is Friday night; there’ll be a bigger crowd, which will stay later – I’m looking forward to it; but my feet aren’t!

Settling in
Same time tomorrow night?
Settling in
Ed gets a rub from Franco.