60th Six Days of Gent - 6D
Gent, Belgium, November 21-26, 2000
By Nick Rosenthal, cyclingnews.com correspondent
This year's Ghent Six is off to a flying start, and promises to be one of the most exciting for years. Organiser Patrick Sercu has ensured that this will be an action-packed and dramatic event by splitting up several regular teams.
Firstly, local heroes Etienne de Wilde and Matt Gilmore, who normally race together, are riding with different partners in this event. These are the two big favourites for the Belgian fans, and having them riding in separate teams not only increases the chances of a home win for a Belgian rider, but also offers the thrilling prospect of De Wilde and Gilmore sprinting it out head to head in the final laps.
Even more astonishingly, Sercu has managed to persuade top Swiss six-day stars Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart to ride with different partners. This is no mean feat, as these two riders were born within a few days of each other, and grew up together in the same Swiss village. When you watch them race together, you can see how their intuitive understanding of one another helps them work really effectively as a team - just like they did to win the Munich Six a couple of weeks ago. They have ridden with different partners in the past, but they're on record as saying they don't really like to, and I've only found about four six-day races where they didn't ride together.
Sercu still had enough powers of persuasion left over to suggest to the other top six-day team, Italy's Silvio Martinello and Marco Villa, that perhaps they might like a break from each other.
So in this year's Ghent Six-Day, we have Matthew Gilmore teamed with Silvio Martinello (an unusual pairing, as they're basically both sprinters, and most top Six-Day teams feature a sprinter and a pursuiter-type rider who can hold the gaps once the sprinter has opened them, or allow the sprinter to rest a bit between the all-important sprints for points). They lead the race after the first night's racing. In second place we find Bruno Risi paired with Etienne de Wilde, now in his 42nd year, as keen and fast as ever and hungry for a tenth win in his home six-day race. The Olympic champions, Aussies Scott McGrory (winner last year) and Brett Aitken are in third place, with Italy's Marco Villa partnering another Belgian rider, Lorenzo Lapage, in fourth place.
The two favourite teams have to be Gilmore-Martinello and Risi-De Wilde. I really wouldn't like to predict the outcome of this race, but one thing is for sure: it will be hotly contested, and it will probably go right to the wire on the very last few laps of the last Madison on Sunday evening. Oh, and it is certain to be talked about for years.
Incidentally, this year marks the return to top-level competition for Matt Gilmore. The Belgian-born Aussie with the British mum crashed very badly in a six-day race in Denmark two years ago, just weeks after winning the world Madison title with Etienne de Wilde. Last year saw him steadily regain fitness, strength and speed, but this winter season has already seen him take silver in the Madison at the Olympics, and win another silver medal in the points race at the Worlds in Manchester. Many of us are delighted to see Matt back at this level, but judging by the look on his face when he held that silver medal at Manchester, Matt is determined to return to his favourite spot at the top of the podium.
Ghent always has a lot of British fans, and they'll be cheering loudly for Rob Hayles and Brad Wiggins. The two British riders are still glowing after their third place in the recent Grenoble Six, and both have good road contracts in their pockets for next season - Wiggins with Linda McCartney and Hayles with the French Cofidis squad. Oh, and at just 20 years of age, Brad is one of the youngest riders ever to stand on a six-day podium.
British riders can also cheer on Tony Gibb and Phil West in the amateur Six at Ghent, which starts one hour before the pros take to the track each day.
1 Scott McGrory (Aus)/Brett Aitken (Aus) 2 Jimmi Madsen (Den)/Kurt Betschart (Swi) 3 Etienne De Wilde (Bel)/Bruno Risi (Swi) 4 Rob Hayles (GBr)/Bradley Wiggins (GBr) 5 Matthew Gilmore (Bel)/Silvio Martinello (Ita) 6 Frank Corvers (Bel)/Adriano Baffi (Ita) 7 Laurenzo Lapage (Bel)/Marco Villa (Ita) 8 Robert Sassone (Fra)/Jean-Michel Tessier (Fra) 9 Robert Slippens (Ned)/Danny Stam (Ned) 10 Nicky Vermeersch (Bel)/Andreas Beikirch (Ger) 11 Manu L'hoir (Bel)/Gerd Dörich (Ger) 12 Luc De Duytsche (Bel)/Tayeb Braikia (Den)
1999 Jimmi Madsen/Scott McGrory (Den/Aus) 1998 Silvio Martinello/Marco Villa (Ita) 1997 Etienne De Wilde/Matthew Gilmore (Bel/Aus) 1996 Bruno Risi/Kurt Betschart (Swi) 1995 Etienne De Wilde/Andreas Kappes (Bel/Ger) 1994 Danny Clark/Etienne De Wilde (Aus/Bel) 1993 Bruno Risi/Kurt Betschart (Swi) 1992 Etienne De Wilde/Jens Veggerby (Bel/Den) 1991 Etienne De Wilde/Tony Doyle (Bel/GBr) 1990 Danny Clark/Roland Günther (Aus/Ger) 1989 Etienne De Wilde/Stan Tourné (Bel) 1988 Urs Freuler/Roman Hermann (Swi/Lie) 1987 Danny Clark/Etienne De Wilde (Aus/Bel) 1986 Danny Clark/Anthony Doyle (Aus/GBr) 1985 Stan Tourné/Etienne De Wilde (Bel) 1984 Gert Frank/Hans Henrik Oërsted (Den) 1983 René Pijnen/Etienne De Wilde (Ned/Bel) 1982 Danny Clark/Donald Allan (Aus) 1981 Patrick Sercu/Gert Frank (Bel/Den) 1980 Patrick Sercu/Albert Fritz (Bel/Ger) 1979 Danny Clark/Donald Allan (Aus) 1978 Patrick Sercu/Gerry Knetemann (Bel/Ned) 1977 Patrick Sercu/Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1976 Danny Clark/Donald Allan (Aus) 1975 Patrick Sercu/Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1974 Graeme Gilmore/Julien Stevens (Aus/Bel) 1973 Patrick Sercu/Graeme Gilmore (Bel/Aus) 1972 Patrick Sercu/Julien Stevens (Bel) 1971 Patrick Sercu/Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1970 Patrick Sercu/Jean-Pierre Monseré (Bel) 1969 Rudi Altig/Sigi Renz (Ger) 1968 Peter Post/Leo Duyndam (Ned) 1967 Patrick Sercu/Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1966 Peter Post/Fritz Pfenninger (Ned/Swi) 1965 Patrick Sercu/Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1961 Rik Van Looy/Peter Post (Bel/Ned) 1960 Rik Van Looy/Peter Post (Bel/Ned) 1959 Rik Van Steenbergen/Fred De Bruyne (Bel) 1958 Reginand Arnold/Rik Van Looy (Aus/Bel) 1957 Rik Van Steenbergen/Fred De Bruyne (Bel) 1956 Reginald Arnold/Fernando Terruzi (Aus/Ita) 1955 Lucien Gillen/Fernando Terruzi (Lux/Ita) 1954 Rik Van Steenbergen/Stan Ockers (Bel) 1953 Achiel Bruneel/Arsčne Rijckaert (Bel) 1952 Walter Bücher/Armin Von Büren (Swi) 1951 René Adriaensens/Albert Bruylandt (Bel) 1950 Gerrit Schulte/Gerrit Peters (Ned) 1949 Gerrit Schulte/Gerrit Boeyen (Ned) 1948 Achiel Bruneel/Camile De Kuysscher (Bel) 1947 Gerrit Schulte/Gerrit Boeyen (Ned 1937 Frans Slaats/Cees Pellenaars (Ned) 1936 Camile De Kuysscher/Albert Billiet (Bel) 1927 Maurice Dewolf/Hilaire Hellebaut (Bel) 1926 César Debaets/Emile Thollembeek (Bel) 1925 César Debaets/Jules Van Hevel (Bel) 1924 Alois Persijn/Jules Verschelden (Bel) 1923 Lucien Buysse/Victor Standaert (Bel) 1922 Marcel Buysse/Oscar Egg (Bel/Swi)