Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Gent Six Day 2009 Finalé-Revisited

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HomeRaceSix DaysGent Six Day 2009 Finalé-Revisited

The Gent Six Day 2009 kicks off next week, so as a way to build the excitement we thought we’d revisit last year’s finalé, with VeloVeritas‘ own Ed Hood there and working for the Danish World Madison Champions, Saxo Bank riders Alex Rasmussen and Michael Mørkøv, as well as Swiss star Franco Marvulli. Read on!…

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Gent Six Day — Nights Five and Six

– First published November 2009 –

The A2 Dover to London road, 23:23 on Sunday.

There was no partying at Iljo’s dad’s bar, De Karper – which is just along the road from the Gent track – for us tonight; we had a ferry to catch.

Gent Six Day 2009
Another sell-out on Day Six.

I didn’t have time to put together a Day Five piece, today. We were up at 09:00 for the 13:00 start; usually I spend the early afternoon writing, but today I couldn’t, although I did manage to get the Day Five pictures away as the under 23 lads prepared for action.

(The big Aussies – Alex Carver & Scott Long – won it by three laps, with Luke Rowe and Jon Mould third for GB.)

Gent Six Day 2009
Luke Rowe, second in the U23 race.

To tell the truth, I can’t remember much about Saturday night, except Eddy Wally.

Gent Six Day 2009
Do you remember seeing Eddy on Eurotrash years ago?

Eddy is part of what Belgium is all about, you never now what to expect; he’s 78 years old, eccentric as hell but adored by the fans.

And I do remember asking Dirk what a particular song was; ‘that’s the Dutch guy, Father Abrahams.’ I asked him is he thought there had been anything going on between Father Abraham and the Smurffs; ‘I think maybe it’s possible!’

Gent Six Day 2009
The Danes are on the top of their game at the moment.

Tonight was special; one of the first sixes I worked at was Grenoble, five or six years ago. Michael and Alex were young Danish laddies riding their first Six; but Michael crashed on the first night and broke his collar bone, whilst Alex was paired with Marco Villa.

I remember Michael eating all of our biscuit stocks and telling me that he wanted to be a Six Day rider – the ‘laddies’ are men, now. They’re champions of the world and tonight they joined the greats as winners of one of the toughest Six Day races there is.

The winners, by ace mechanic Dirk van Hove of the Porsche-Drapac team.
The winners, by Dirk van Hove of the Porsche-Drapac team. (click for the full image)

I always hit it off with Michael, but used to feel there was a little barrier between Alex and me.

Gent Six Day 2009
Alex Rasmussen.

But that came down at the Copenhagen Six – which they won – back in February and I enjoy my relationship with Alex, now.

It’s not certain that they’ll be defending their world title at the worlds in Copenhagen next spring; the track isn’t that big a deal to Pro Tour teams.

I hope they do ride, if they do, I could well be tempted to get over to the Ballerup velodrome – where the Worlds will be, and where the Copenhagen six is held – to watch ‘my’ boys.

Gent Six Day 2009
Here at VeloVeritas, we reckon Iljo’s bikes have the nicest geometry and setup.
Gent Six Day 2009
…as opposed to the likes of Bruno’s bike, with its multi-stacked head.

People say; ‘ah! Those Six Days are all fixed, aren’t they?’

Of course! It’s a doddle to win one, provided you can take a lap when the string is riding at 55 kph – easy.

If you were Iljo Keisse, would you give your home race away? – me neither!

Gent Six Day 2009
Iljo tried his best to win again here.

Iljo was impressive, and has done his reputation no harm with the way he rode here; aggressive, flamboyant and gracious in defeat.

Kluge is a big strong boy, out of the Bartko mould, they both ride Cervelos and have impressively smooth but robotic riding styles.

Gent Six Day 2009
Kluge, big and strong, at Gent a couple of years ago. Photo©Ed Hood

But they don’t play to the crowd, like Iljo – or Franco. Franco oozes star quality, tall, tanned, handsome, multi lingual, popular with the ladies but cool with the guys too.

Gent Six Day 2009
Dirk catches Franco messing around with the lap bell.
Gent Six Day 2009
Franco with his flowers, before handing them out to all the ladies.

He won the flying lap tonight, then rode round pointing at his chest; ‘that was me just did that 8.71!’ following the win up by distributing his bouquet, flower by flower to the ladies in the crowd.

Gent Six Day 2009
Everyone says ‘bye’ to Bruno.

Bruno Risi – he’s still the man; a joy to watch, fast, strong and with some sort of bat-like instinct to detect the exact second to go for the lap gain. We’ll miss him.

Gent Six Day 2009
Pete Jacques with Dave, Stuart and John (nice shirt Mr. Anderson).

Whilst Six Day organisers across Europe wring their hands, the Kuipke pulses like a living thing.

I was fascinated by it; on Thursday night, the crowd in the track centre was huge, threatening to brush aside the railings and cabins and drink it’s pils on the slow running boards.

Gent Six Day 2009
We’re not sure if these guys are in fact Scottish!

The amount of beer drunk is mind boggling, they ship the stuff in by the pallet.

There’s little grief, although a lot of them get carried away – they want jerseys, sun glasses, shorts – anything!

You have to be firm – and keep back from the barriers or you’ll spend the whole night taking programmes to get autographed.

It’s hard when folks come for a chat, you have to keep half an eye on the cabins – you never know what you might have to do and you can’t stray too far or for too long.

Gent Six Day 2009
Runners and Mechanics have to be on hand all the time – here, for pushing off at the start of the Derny.

People m