It’s always cold in Bremen, the Baltic is just up the road so you get cold or cold and wet; today it’s the latter but the cabin has a window so we can at least see the sky – not like the usual breeze block with no windows.
The overnight drive up was as horrible as usual, we parked up at a truck stop, slept then had breakfast in a motorway services – much nicer than the ones we have in the UK, I must say.
The track here in Bremen is the tightest on the circuit, a temporary 160 metre job to fit the hall.
The bankings are said to be 49 degrees, it’s the same length as Gent but squashed so the turns are tighter and the straights longer.
The boards are at right angle to the direction of riding just like in those old pictures we see of tracks in Australia and the USA ‘back in the day.’
They make a hell of a noise and add to the impression of speed when you stand trackside.
There have been a few changes to the field; Belgians Iljo Keisse still rides with Jasper de Buyst and are the red-hot favourites now that their compatriot, Kenny de Ketele is out after his Rotterdam crash.
Kenny was to ride with German World Madison Champion Theo Reinhardt [which he won with Roger Kluge, who’s ‘Down Under’ taking care of Caleb. ed.] who now pairs with late addition, Dane, Marc Hester who’s just off a strong ride in Rotterdam.
Our rider, home boy Achim Burkart is disappointed that the man he’s supposed to ride with, Dutchman Yoeri Havik made a last minute decision to ride the World Cup in Cambridge, New Zealand.
Achim and Yoeri rode strongly last year to finish second behind winners Reinhardt/de Ketele and Achim was looking forward to renewing the partnership.
But the organisation have paired him with former European Madison Champion, Austria’s Andreas Graf, who’s not a bad rider at all.
And that’s maybe your top three right there unless the pairing of Germany’s Christian Grasmann and Dane Jesper Mørkøv can squeeze Achim of the podium.
And adding a little World Tour glamour to proceedings is Italy and UAE rider, Simone Consonni who rides with rapid Swiss, Tristan Marguet.
But I’m guilty of the same sin as occurred at the pre-race presentation, last night – too much small talk, sorry.
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A Devil to start and one of the two young Danes in the race outsprints ‘King’ Iljo for the win; like Achim says to them; ‘it’s going to be a hard chase for you guys tonight!’
Seven laps, that’s a lot of laps to lose in the first Madison but it gives some indication of how fierce a first chase this was with the teams at the bottom of the ranking going seven down – not so much losing laps as being unable to take them.
Mørkøv crashed early but with just his pride damaged and Iljo changed bikes – a slipping saddle?
We’d see Iljo in the pits later grappling with his seat adjustment.
Hester/Reinhardt ran out winners and then it was ‘entertainment time’ with Howard Carpendale the man doing the singing, no snide remarks from me – I want to keep these credentials until the end – but it would be good if I could figure out why one of his backing singers appeared to be using his underpants as headgear?
Sprinter heats, with two GB boys in there, Ali Fielding and Paisley man, Jonathan Mitchell – no wins though.
Derny one, I push off Aussie Joshua Harrison, he feels so light after a week of pushing off man mountain Thomas Babek at Rotterdam; ex-European Derny Champion Mørkøv took the flowers.
More sprints and Fielding neatly takes the 4th to 6th place ride.
Derny two and I push off our boy Hans – he’s a bit heavier than Josh but not as heavy as Thomas was – sorry, didn’t jot down the winner.
Sprinters, one to three ride with ‘bad man’ Spaghetti Western music getting the atmosphere just right.
The man with the massive legs, Robert Förstemann takes it.
The 500 metre time trial goes to Marguet/Consommi, the Italian is really chuffed with his flowers…
Scotland’s moment of glory and flowers follows as Jonathan Mitchell lays way off in the Keirin, goes long and hangs on – must have been that push I gave him…
Final Devil – our boys are all out early so pack up time for Ed – I think De Pauw won but don’t quote me.
Achim near the top of the board and a Scottish win; mustn’t grumble – and no sign of Howard Carpendale on the Friday programme…
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A busy programme with the usual chases, Dernies, Devils, Points Races, Time Trials…
But the hi-lite of the night was the ‘past winners’ Derny race.
In the line-up we had Marco Villa (Italy), winner in 1996 with one of the coolest dudes ever to put a leg over a bike, compatriot Silvio Martinello.
Villa is 49 years-old now; he won 24 Six Days in his career and was twice world Madison champion with aforementioned Martinello.
Karsten Wolf (Germany) won in 1997 with the late Andre