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37th Grenoble Six Day - 6D
Grenoble, France, October 25-30, 2007
Day 6 - October 30
The "Ras Attack" Wins the Day
By Timothy Bradford in Grenoble
The final night of this 37th edition of the Grenoble Six-Day was an exercise in patience and anticipation. Patience because there was only one Six-Day related race in the first four-and-a-half hours of racing. Not that there wasn't a lot of other activity, including Canadian and Russian acrobats, tightrope walkers, topless dancers and sprinters, sprinters, sprinters.
Plenty of anticipation was generated for the final night on Day 5, when the lead changed four times in the course of the last five events. With three teams vying neck and neck for the overall, the first race of Day 6, a thirty lap points race that caused the lead to change yet again, made one anxious to see the Six-Day guys doing their thing. And one would, with patience, get plenty of that in the end, with the final event, a marathon 180 lap Madison.
The evening opened with juniors' and women's regional races, as has been the custom, and proceeded with the opening rounds of the Pro Match Sprints.
The final Keirin race in the Keirin series went off next, and Mickaël d'Almeida bested Arnaud Tournant and Didier Henriette to the line. The final standings were Tournant, first, Henriette, second, and Grégory Baugé, third.
The Six-Day thirty lap points race was next up. Aeschbach/Defauw finished first by one point over Morkov/Rasmussen with the Czech team of Kankovsky/Lazar in third and Neuville/Villa in ninth, earning only one point in the process. And although Aeschbach/Defauw won in a convincing enough fashion, Morkov/Rasmussen showed a hint of the power that would eventually decide the race when, for the penultimate sprint, Rasmussen made a move from near the back of the field with less than a lap to go to win.
The overall standings after this race were Aeschbach/Defauw in first with 315 points, Morkov/Rasmussen in second with 314 points, and Neuville/Villa in third with 306 points.
There were more Pro Match Sprints next, followed by the Team Sprint during which Morkov/Rasmussen again showed off the serious horsepower they possess. Teamed up with sprinter Grégory Baugé, the trio turned in the best three lap Team Sprint time of the night with a 35.233. The overall winners in this series, Lazar and Kankovsky, were teamed up with sprinter Mickaël Bourgain and turned in the second best time with a 35.439.
The Pro Match Sprints series concluded with Bourgain beating Baugé in the finals. Baugé, however, retained enough points to finish first overall, followed by Bourgain and Tournant.
The final event of the Golden Sprint series, which featured a different event every night, was a Keirin in which Baugé beat Tournant and Henriette to the line to take the race and the series. Bourgain and Tournant followed in the overall classification.
With these events out of the way, it was time for the ten teams of two to take to the track for a 180 lap Madison with three intermediary sprints and one final sprint for double points. The top four teams, Aeschbach/Defauw, Morkov/Rasmussen, Neuville/Villa and Kankovsky/Lazar, took turns attacking and taking laps in a test of wills that would try the tired legs of the riders at the end of six nights of racing.
With 150 laps to go, these top four teams lapped the field. Deneef/Schets and Kadlec/Zabka joined them a couple laps later.
Then, with 132 laps to go, Aeschbach/Defauw and Morkov/Rasmussen went again with little difficulty. The teams of Neuville/Villa and Kankovsky/Lazar were slow to respond but eventually bridged to join the leaders as they all took another lap from the field.
Not long after, with 120 laps to go, Aeschbach/Defauw and Morkov/Rasmussen tried to go again but decided better of it and instead chose to drop back and wait for the first points sprint at 100 laps to go.
In this sprint, Defauw amazingly crossed the line first after taking a hand-sling from Aeschbach on turn three in the midst of the rush for the line. Morkov/Rasmussen took second, but this still left Aeschbach/Defauw in the lead by three points.
Neuville/Villa and Kankovsky/Lazar countered-attacked the sprint, but they were soon joined by Aeschbach/Defauw and Morkov/Rasmussen before putting another lap on the rest of the field. Barring a major move by another team or a crash, it was clear that the victory would be decided between Aeschbach/Defauw and Morkov/Rasmussen.
Then, in the points sprint with 80 laps to go, Aeschbach/Defauw again took first while Morkov/Rasmussen were left without points. Suddenly, a three point lead became eight points, and since the two teams seemed so evenly matched, it looked like another victory for Aeschbach, who had already won here four times.
The points sprint with 30 laps to go saw Rasmussen take first over Defauw followed by Lazar and Villa, but this still left Aeschbach/Defauw six points in the lead. Even with double points in the final sprint, it was unlikely that Morkov/Rasmussen could make up that much ground.
Then, with 19 laps to go, it was a full-on "Ras attack." This is not to take anything away from Morkov, who more than holds up his end of the team work. But throughout the series, it has been Rasmussen who has made the big moves that have made the difference, and this was the biggest move yet.
After Rasmussen established an enormous gap, Morkov extended it, and with 9 laps to go, after a mere 10 laps of solo team work, Morkov/Rasmussen had lapped the field and sealed the victory. Just to make sure nobody thought it a fluke, they took the final sprint, too.
Despite the Grenoble penchant for Neuville/Villa, the audience, which was large and boisterous on this final night, seemed pleased with the victors. After all, they had paid their dues. Morkov broke his collarbone here on the first night in 2005, and Rasmussen was third the same year and second in 2006 with Morkov.
The top three overall at the end were Morkov/Rasmussen in first with 357 points, Aeschbach/Defauw in second one lap down with 349 points, and Neuville/Villa in third one lap down with 326 points.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Timothy Bradford
1 Michael Morkov (Den) / Alex Rasmussen (Den) 357 pts 1 lap down 2 Alexander Aeschbach (Swi) / Dimitri Defauw (Bel) 349 pts 3 Jérôme Neuville (Fra) / Marco Villa (Ita) 326 3 laps down 4 Alois Kankovsky (Cze) / Pert Lazar (Cze) 228 pts 7 laps down 5 Steve Schets (Bel) / Steven Deneef (Bel) 212 pts 8 laps down 6 Angelo Ciccone (Ita) / Fabio Masotti (Ita) 178 pts 9 laps down 7 Josef Zabka (Cze) / Milan Kadlec (Svk) 169 pts 12 laps down 8 Christian Grasmann (Ger) / Gerd Dörich (Ger) 110 pts 19 laps down 9 Jonathan Mouchel (Fra) / Sébastian Ivers (Fra) 60 pts 24 laps down 10 Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) / Morgan Lamoisson (Fra) 48 pts