Forgive me if all I do these days is moan about Six Day finales.
As Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis booms out of the PA the scoreboard tells me Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw are FOUR laps clear.
It’s a real cliff hanger …
That was the same advantage they went into this final chase with.
A few years back this would have been unthinkable – the winners would take victory in the final sprint or with a late lap gain.
Not, I hasten to add a ‘charade’ lap gain per Wiggo/Cav, Gent 2016.
Maybe it’s me, getting old, remembering ‘the good old days’ of Risi/Beschart and Slippens/Stam; and before that, Danny Clark, Leo Duyndam, Rene Pijnen – I could go on.
So Kenny and Moreno win by four laps – but why?
Great athletes, of course, but showmen? Entertainers? No.
If you want to see hard, ‘straight’ bike racing then go to a World Cup …
It’s an unwritten law of the Six Days that you can never ‘just arrive’ at the venue.
There has to be transcontinental drive or at least a train journey or two.
Fortunately, the trains in The Netherlands have nothing to do with British Rail and run to the minute – all you have to do is head downstairs from Schipol Airport and there you are, the iron road to Rotterdam.
It’s a while since I’ve been on a Dutch train. It was 2012 in fact, on my way down to the Valkenburg Worlds and Phil Gil doing the business.
And a wee while since last I was at the Rotterdam Six Day, 2012 again when home boys Peter Schep (now there was a stylist) and that most phsical of fast men, Wim Stroetinga won.
Schep is now Race Director at the Rotterdam race so no excuses accepted for below par performances.
Stroetinga meanwhile is still treading them boards – partnered with ex-Raleigh man, Yoeri Havik.
The rolling presentation; some guys like it as a ‘good warm up,’ but to others it’s a pain in the neck.
But if you’re a spectator it helps with rider recognition as the speaker reels off their palmarès.
In Niki Terpstra’s case that takes several laps.
Leaner than ever, he’s partnered with new Sky man, Dylan Van Baarle, another long, lean Dutchman.
No podium for the Dutchmen though.
Other big name teams include French World Madison Champions, Benjamin Thomas and another ex-Raleigh man, Morgan Kneisky.
German duo, Roger Kluge and Christian Grassman would normally have been well ‘in the mix’ but Christian was sick over the weekend and neutralised out of the race.
Our boys are Polish duo Daniel Staniszewski and Wojciech Pszcolarski; the latter was with us last year in Copenhagen and in the meantime he picked up a bronze at the Worlds in the points race.
But who’s the old dude sitting quietly beside the track?
Only Bruno Walrave. Former king of the Derny and big motor pilots – and 15 times world champion.
And on the subject of ‘stars on 45’ we get a visit from ‘Boogie’ – Michael Bogaert, former Rabobank star, the shine on who’s palmarès is wiped out by the harsh reality of Rabo’s now notorious ‘programme.’
And if you’ve read Thomas Dekker’s book, ‘The Descent’ then you won’t be surprised that ‘Boogie’ and old Tom no longer exchange Christmas cards.
Despite all the talk of stamping out sexism and banning podium girls, word hasn’t reached Rotterdam yet with the ‘flower girls’ in their Lycra catsuits.
They seem to enjoy their work though …
Stroetinga/Havik were second in the final reckoning.
And there’s little doubt that if you want to get rider interviews then blonde curls are very helpful in clinching the deal.