Thursday, May 30, 2024

Berlin Six Day 2011 Finalè

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HomeDiariesBerlin Six Day 2011 Finalè

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
The final podium of the Berlin Six Day 2011.
Berlin Six Day 2011
What we’re here for.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Cameron was well paid for his six nights work.

The usual banter wasn’t there; it was all very ‘flat.’

Berlin Six Day 2011
Alex reads…
Berlin Six Day 2011
…while Jens-Erik takes a nap.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
That’s the track roof on the right.
Berlin Six Day 2011
The entrance to the track isn’t glam.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Grim-looking East German apartment blocks.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
The roof inside the track is amazing.
Berlin Six Day 2011
The calm before the storm.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Despite the format questions, the place was a sell-out.
Berlin Six Day 2011
Sprinter Forstemann’s leg.
Berlin Six Day 2011
Cam’s partner, Leigh Howard.
Berlin Six Day 2011
Danilo Hondo is a Six Day regular.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Ralph Schuermann (L) with Jack Simes.

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
A suit might have been better than a lumber jack shirt and jeans but who was going to tell him?

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.

Berlin Six Day 2011
Foot long ‘dogs, anyone?
Berlin Six Day 2011
…or some pasta?