It wasn’t a great first night here at the Copenhagen Six Day 2011; sparse crowds, lacklustre chases and I seemed to spend the whole day gittering about to little effect, but we’re set up, the hotel is great, the boys are all relaxed and it’s Friday – so maybe we’ll get a better crowd.
Copenhagen is ‘old school’ – long chases are what six days are all about say the organisers; I’m not so sure.
A ‘soft’ chase on a 166 metre track is one thing, you just about get away with it, but on the broad acres of a 250 metre track it’s dire, it looks so slow and processional.
I was talking to Danny Clark at breakfast and he was waxing lyrical about the ‘old days’ of 100 kilometre chases to start the night every night for Six Days.
The conversation was veering into Monty Python territory a little though;
“We opened the night with a 100 kilometre chase, raced hard all night until 05:00 am and then we partied.
And the racing started again at 11:00 am and lasted all afternoon…”
I was just waiting for him to say;
“…and the organisers used to publicly flog us every night and paid us only one euro per day…”
That was ‘then‘ and this is ‘now‘ – the big road stars don’t ride the Sixes these days and the public don’t want to sit for nearly two hours watching a madison – especially if it was like the two I witnessed here, last night.
But a six has to have it’s own formula, Grenoble has the cabaret, Gent has the Dernys and pils, Berlin the sprinters and stayers and if long chases work here, then who am I to argue?
But maybe the organisers at the now defunct Dortmund, Munich and Stuttgart sixes said the same thing?
As well as the usual Franco, Michael, Alex and Jens-Erik contingent, we have US rider Colby Pearce to look after; there’s not much Colby hasn’t done; criteriums, cyclo-cross, mountain bikes – and he’s won track World Cups.
He’s a cool guy and not hard to work with; nor is our sixth rider – Michael Mørkøv’s little brother, Jesper who’s fresh from winning the U23 six at Berlin on the back of a road season in France.
Alex’s HTC kit takes a wee bit of getting used to, I’ve had two years of the two Danes wearing matching Saxo kit.
I like the new ‘baby blue’ Saxo kit, it’s an unusual colour, but Michael’s mitts are lethal for the dye running and have to be washed separately.
If you’ve seen our stuff about Copenhagen then you’ll have read that Michael had special ‘undersized’ jerseys made for himself so they’re skintight and won’t flap, what I forgot to say was that he had them made extra long so there’s no chance of them coming out of the waistband of his shorts – did someone say ‘attention to detail?’
The cycling team situation in Denmark isn’t great; Saxo may be big players but further down the scale there’s not much doing – that was why Michael Rasmussen’s Christina Watches team has caused a stir.
There are a lot of riders who would kill for a contract and Rasmussen’s claim that he had more than 50 applications rings true to me.
Jens was a national team member but had to come off the programme because his life was becoming one perpetual training camp – and with a wife and young child that’s not the best.
Unlike Berlin, where some of the Six Day ‘names’ were missing, all of the players are here – Robert Bartko partners with Robert Bengsch, a pairing that has already won Bremen.
Also here are Peter Schep, Leif Lampater, de Ketele, Mertens, Hester, Stam, Grasmann – plus van Bon and Aeschbach, neither of them rode in Berlin as part of the organisers’ efforts to keep costs down.