The stadium in Berlin is spectacular, with a 142 metres span it boasts the largest steel roof in Europe; the crowd has to be seen to be believed, on the last night there were certainly more fans than there were seats; the noise is deafening — and for a fan it’s just like you dreamed of.
But if you were on the inside it wasn’t a happy race; to get the World Champions on board the organisers had to pay big bucks.
I can’t quote figures or it would be no more sixes for Ed, but it was serious money, ‘that’s fair enough’ I hear you say.
But it’s not.
Last season Bruno Risi didn’t ride Berlin because the organisers set a cap on what they could — or rather, would pay — and that was less than Bruno valued himself at.
The Aussies were each paid twice what the ‘capped’ figure was, and that didn’t go down well with the riders.
The usual banter wasn’t there; it was all very ‘flat.’
That said, it was a great experience to be there — I worked at Berlin a few years ago but somehow I don’t remember too much about it.
It was easier to get me to Berlin than it was to get me to Copenhagen and it meant I was there to help for the finalè.
The track is largely below ground and from the outside looks like a storage shed but when you walk in and see that roof and the big track — 250 metres — sitting there under the lights, it’s pretty special.
The folk lore is that the track is on the site of what was the old Stasi (East German Secret Police) HQ.
If you’ve ever seen the excellent film, ‘The Lives of Others’ the ‘velodrom’ is surrounded by those bleak apartment blocks that appear in the movie.
The only thing with a big track is that even with an 18 team field the riders do look a little ‘lost’ on that big expanse of Siberian Spruce.
Which leads me back to money, some of the six day stalwarts were missing from those 18 teams — no Aeschbach or Van Bon for example and the field was ‘padded out’ with Czechs and Russians.
Some of them are hardy guys but they’re also easier to pay than shrewd Swiss or Dutch riders.
I know that the track is made from Siberian Spruce because I was talking to the man who designed and built it, Ralph Schuermann who is the third generation of the famous track architect dynasty.
The timber grows north of the Arctic Circle where the growing season is very short, the growth rings are tight, making it very hard and because they take the timber from deep in the forest it’s unaffected by the wind, growing tall and straight.
He’s also the man behind the Meadowbank and Glasgow Commonwealth Games tracks.
Andre Greipel appeared for a presentation, he’s a big boy and wee Cav is gallus to give him verbal; he looks like he could bite your head off.
The Danes won the chase on Thursday night; that was cool — during that race there were guys going about as slow as I’ve seen at a six day, on their knees.