It’s another big Madison tonight here at the Copenhagen Six Day 2012; 75 kilometres/300 laps, but with a ‘twist’ — it’s a handicap. Bartko/Lampater, Stam/Stroetinga and Alex/Michael give away six laps to Jackie/Schröder — with the rest of the field somewhere in between.
The final laps count for the overall so there’s no messing; if a big team doesn’t pull the laps back then they’re lost.
Really, all that goes before the handicap is just to whet the appetite — there are a lot of nervous cyclists in the cabins.
We’re on a ‘zero tolerance’ policy tonight — no mistakes, no riders left to make their own way off the track, nothing left in the drier – and lids properly on bottles.
The sprints follow the rolling presentation, Shane takes one of the sprints, winning a swag basket; but then, in the one lap TT he gets pipped — damn!
Then it’s the Ballerup Grand Prix, knock-out match sprinting for the Six Day riders; Alex makes a point of making it look easy against Franco — he’s a cheeky monkey.
Danny Clark comes to call and gives Jackie some advice about how to ride the handicap — when Danny talks about how to ride a Madison then it’s good policy to listen.
We have other visitors, Six Day man from my boyhood, Jack Simes (read our recent Interview with him) – Jackie’s dad – and Danish former double Junior World Champion and GP E3 winner, Søren Lilholt.
Time for the presentation of Jesper’s new team — it’s organised by former professional Michael Sandstød who will be taking over as Copenhagen Six Day organiser for the 2013 edition of the race.
Both men have strong palmarès; Sandstød won the Four Days of Dunkerque, the GP Herning, the Tour of Picardie and the Danish Elite Time Trial and Road Championships during his career.
Madsen rode the Giro, won multiple Danish Track Championships, the European Madison title, nine Six Day races and ranks fourth in the all time list of Danish Six Day riders behind Palle Lykke, Gert Frank and Jens Veggerby.
Jesper raced in France last season with CC Bonnat near Paris but received an offer to ride for Sandstød and will be able to enjoy his mum’s cooking in 2012, riding a Danish based programme.
Derny madison next, when we tell Shane that there’s no changes after ten laps to go he replies; ‘but isn’t that exactly when you’d need one?’
It’s hard to argue with that.
‘In Zaire’ by Johnny Wakelin – which is about the ‘Rumble in The Jungle’ boxing match – kicks off the Derny; Johnny wasn’t the most diverse songster, his other hit was ‘Muhammad Ali, The Black Superman’. Jesper and Franco win the Derny.
We get a double helping of Ole Steens tonight — 50’s and 60’s rock n’ roll, Danish style…
And then it’s time.
The board clicks round to 300, ‘Cara Mia’ thumps from the PA and the attacks start early.
For a ‘little’ team to win this they have to go with the moves which they can handle, if they sit in the peloton their laps will melt away like ‘snaw aff a dyke’ as we say in Scotland.
Kiss, Whigfield, Chris Montez, all good Madison grooves — Kris wanders over to tell me that he reckons he’s spent 150 days of his life standing beside tracks with feeding bottles.
Half distance passes, it’s a toughie, guys are wasted already, at 142 to go Aeschbach and Ranneries join Jackie and Schröder on the zero lap.
Tim Mertens slogs the laps out; Michael floats around the boards as if he’s on a monorail.
At 121 to go, Grasmann/Norman joins the leaders — possible winners?
Christian is strong and Norman is the home boy.
Bengsch/Kalz make it four on zero at 114 to go and it stays that way as 100 to go comes and goes on the lap board.
Leon Van Bon waves Michael Smith Larsen away from his spell, the Dutchman can see that his Danish partner is suffering.
There’s needle between Michael/Alex and Keisse/Hester; Marc matches Michael blow for blow, but his face tells the story of the toll it’s taking on him.
With 78 to go it’s Bengsch/Kalz on zero and looking strong.
Shane is hurting, really hurting; he’s down for drinks almost every time he’s ‘resting.’
‘This isn’t nice!’ he shouts to us — aye, we can see that, Shane.
Inside 50, Michael looks as smooth as silk, he understands that this is a psychological as well as a physical game, if you’re looking for signs of weakness in Michael, you’ll wait a long time.
With 24 to go it’s looking decidedly tough out there, even experienced hands like Andreas Müller have heaving chests.
Inside 25 and it looks like the Ivan Drago (aka Robert Bengsch) and sidekick Kalz are going to win, no one has the motivation or the legs to make a move.
Bang!: It’s over.
Shane slumps in the cabin and glugs water like a man who’s been found wandering in the Kalahari, too wasted to think about changing his jersey.
And we heard later that Michael Smith Larsen passed out in the cabin and had to have oxygen administered.
A very tough race but not a great one to watch, the die was cast with 78 to go and after that the field just ‘rode home’ — there was no excitement for the fans for the entire last quarter of the race.
But it’s easy for me to say — I’m just the runner.
It’s our last washing tonight, not just of the 6 Dags Lob Kobenhavn, but of the 2011/2012 winter season — I nearly have my life back.
I don’t know if that makes me happy or not.