Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Rotterdam Six Day 2011 – Day Five, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Before we bring you up todate with the Rotterdam Six Day 2011, I’ll tell you a wee story; I was sitting next to this chap at the team launch, drinking my coffee, eating my Vacansoleil cookie and thinking; ‘I should know who he is, he’s the double of Ezequiel Mosquera.

Then the penny dropped; it was Old Zeke, in person, my – now tarnished – hero from the Vuelta. I’d forgotten that he’d joined Vacansoleil as one of their mountain men.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Mosquera got the gist of the occasion, even if he missed out on a lot of the chat.

He looked out of place and wistful throughout proceedings – the language barrier is a high one.

He speaks very little English and despite The Netherlands’ historic links with Spain, it’s not a common language in these parts.

On Mosquera’s previous team, the now defunct Galicia, they didn’t even speak Spanish – Castillan, as they call it – on the team bus; it was Gallego, the language of that top left hand corner of Spain which is very like Scotland.

It’s a while since I’ve been to a big team launch, the last one was Saunier Duval, three years ago, in Granada.

There’s a common denominator – ‘The Cobra,’ Riccardo Ricco was at both gigs; like Zeke another man who’s had his problems with the contents of little tubes of fluid.

I interviewed him back then and was struck by how much of a pain in the neck he was.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
The smiling snake, er, cobra.

In fairness, he seems much less full of himself now – I didn’t bother attempting an interview this time around, speaking through an interpreter isn’t great and Riccardo’s English is even worse than mine.

My pal Viktor suggested to me that I should have asked how Riccardo’s wee chum at Saunier, Leonardo Piepoli was getting on – perhaps not.

Riccardo doesn’t look much off the bike, there’s no ‘aura,’ but in the half season he’s been back he’s already up to 44th spot in the world rankings with 756 points and was second to Visconti in the UCI European rankings for non-Pro Tour teams.

Stijn Devolder, with wins in the Belgian road and time trial championships is ranked 84th in the world points scores.

Stijn is a cool guy, softly spoken and calm, no trendy haircut or jewellery but thighs like logs.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Devolder, Leukemans, and Van Der Schueren meet the press.

Johny Hoogerland is another of Vacansoleil’s stars – maybe last year wasn’t as solid as the year before but he’s highly motivated by the fact that the team is now certain of a Tour spot.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Johny Hoogerland.

He’s riding the Giro ‘for Ricco’ and the Tour for himself, not for GC but to ‘show himself’ and try for a stage win.

Johny used to be a bit of a ‘wild man,’ who liked a fag and a pils but is much more focussed, these days.

I enjoyed the presentation, it struck the right note, not too formal but getting the messages across.

At the end, as the immaculate waiters uncorked fine wines and the exquisite nibbles appeared, I had to bolt to the horrors of the shopping mall.

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Iljo just keeps popping up.

There’s a sequel to the story, I was at breakfast the next morning and one of the soigneurs on the Six Day works part time for Vacansoleil… I got treated to “the alternative press launch

“There’s not much money in the team…

“It looks organised, but it really isn’t…

“The managers aren’t organised at all, one of the Cervélo guys was telling me about Van Poppel – hah!…

“Marco Marcato is the best, always at the front – and cheap!…

“Wout Poels is a good guy and a good climber, skinny upper body and huge legs…”

and so it went on.

As the Americans spin-doctors would say, “he’s off-message.”

Rotterdam Six Day 2011
Jens-Erik waits for something to happen.

It was subdued in the stadium on Monday night, maybe because of the early Sunday finish and the big chunk of drinking time that it free-ed up?

We had two lovely cold pils in a wee local bar where they had a perfect juke box and the European speed skating championships on the TV.

Back in 1980 at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, the star of the Games was American speed skater Eric Heiden whose massive thighs and gold skinsuit appeared on every TV screen in the world as he sliced to five gold medals.

Speed skating? 'These pics will make sense when you get my words'. Ah, ok! (Editor).
Speed skating? ‘These pics will make sense when you get my words’. Ah, ok! (Editor).

Heiden went on to ride with the US 7-eleven cycling team, finishing the Giro in ’85 and starting, but not finishing the Tour in ’86 as well as winning the ’85 US pro road race champs.

He’s now a well respected sports doctor.

I finally caught up with Charline Joiner, tonight – she’s here on her own, and finding it a wee bit hard.

Charline Joiner. Image@John Young.

But against the likes of big hitting road stars like Kirsten Wild (ex-Cervelo, now AA Drinks) it’s hardly surprising.

We got parking problems with our camper.
We got parking problems with our camper.
Danny Stam. Image@John Young.
Michael about to beat Van Bon. Image@John Young.
Stam slings Van Bon. Image@John Young.
Kenny. Image@John Young.
Michael leads. Image@John Young.

Keisse and De Ketele lead at the end of the night and the organisers sent out a message over the PA;

“We have a message for the UCI in Aigle…

“Kenny & Iljo are in good shape and leading the Six days of Rotterdam!”

Old Patrick’s sure to be chuffed.

Five down, one to go – and the last washing is done.

ciao, ciao.

Niki Terpstra. Image@John Young.
Mechanics kill time.
Clan Traksel. Image@John Young.
Clan Stam. Image@John Young.

Result

Points Race

1 Jeff Vermeulen (Ned) / Tim Mertens (Bel) 10 pts
2 Marc Hester (Den) / Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned) 6
3 Iljo Keisse / Kenny De Ketele (Bel) 5
4 Jos Pronk / Jens Mouris (Ned) 4
5 Bobbie Traksel / Tim Veldt (Ned) 3
6 Yoeri Havik / Nick Stöpler (Ned) 2
7 Lampater – Niki Terpstra (Ned)
8 Michael Mørkøv / Jens-Erik Madsen (Den)
9 Raymond Kreder / Michel Kreder (Ned)
10 Robert Bartko (Ger) / Pim Ligthart (Ned)
11 Peter Schep / Theo Bos (Ned)
12 Danny Stam / Leon van Bon (Ned)
13 Kenny van Hummel (Ned) / Andreas Müller (Ger)

Team Elimination

1 Michael Mørkøv / Jens-Erik Madsen (Den) 20 pts
2 Danny Stam / Leon van Bon (Ned) 12
3 Iljo Keisse / Kenny De Ketele (Bel) 10
4 Peter Schep / Theo Bos (Ned) 8
5 Lampater – Niki Terpstra (Ned) 6
6 Marc Hester (Den) / Geert-Jan Jonkman (Ned) 4
7 Kenny van Hummel (Ned) / Andreas Müller (G