Gent Six Day: The big names react to the racing and final outcome
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Gent Six Day: The big names react to the racing and final outcome

by Ed Hood at 12:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Track
Gallery of images show riders in Belgian track classic

Iljo Keisse Glenn OAs the fans waved their "Iljo" scarves in the air and slid off to their favourite bars on Sunday evening, Velo Nation took time to talk to the three podium teams.

The last madison was fast and finished in dramatic fashion with second placed Gils Van Hoecke coming down hard as he exchanged with his fellow world madison champion, Kenny De Ketele with just three laps to go.

De Ketele was then confronted with the impossible task of beating Keisse in the final sprint after a double spell.

The man from Oudenaarde could only drop his head between his shoulders as his dream of retaining his Ghent title with the rainbow jersey on his back evaporated.

The track had been running fast all week, with a new ceiling providing better insulation, trapping the heat, reducing the movement of air and making for a thinner stiller atmosphere to slice through.

The Swiss duo of Franco Marvulli and Tristan Marguet took advantage of the conditions with Marguet lowering South African Jean Pierre Van Zyl's 10 year old lap record twice; the duo also lowered the 500 metre flying start record to 27.03.

Marquet's name goes against the 08:56 for one lap of the boards which how stands as the lap record - but Marvulli's perfect lead out and massive sling contributed much to the speed.

In third place on the podium were six day stalwart and former double Olympic champion - Sidney 2000, individual and team pursuit - Robert Bartko of Germany; paired with up and coming Swiss rider, Silvan Dillier.

The duo grabbed the lead with an audacious early lap gain on Sunday evening, but couldn't hold on to their lap as De Ketele/Van Hoecke and Keisse/O'Shea locked horns in ernest.

Dillier has had a good season, with strong results in the European track championships, plus a stage win and tenure in the yellow jersey in the Tour de l'Avenir.

“This isn't my best six day result, I was second in Berlin with Franco Marvulli at the start of the year - but this was a much harder race.

“It was great to be riding with such an established rider as Robert Bartko; he has an excellent sense of timing - he reads the race very well and knows exactly when to make the attacks.

“I was nervous coming in the final - our tactic was to go for the lap early and try to hold on to it.

“We got the gain, but as the race went on, we tired and came back on to the same lap as the two leading teams.

“They had better points totals than us so there was nothing we could do.

“Next I ride Zurich, with Glenn O'Shea - after that I have a training camp then maybe the Rotterdam six day, another training camp, the World Cup in Mexico and the Worlds in Belarus.”

Runner up De Ketele was philosophical in defeat; “Gils back wheel slipped out when we changed - I think maybe someone spilled a drink on the track?

“It's just one of those things - it meant that I had to win the final sprint off a double spell and that just wasn't possible.”

Winner and reigning world omnium champion, Glenn O'Shea was understandably delighted with his win.

We began by asking how the connection with Keisse came about;

“It was Matt Gilmore who promoted the idea, he won here in Ghent with Iljo and is now heavily involved with cycling back in Australia.”

We reminded him that Keisse had told us, after his win in the Four Days of Grenoble that the Australian had made Ghent one of his main goals for the year;

“Very much so! After the Olympics I could have taken five weeks off, or whatever I wanted, really - but I only took two weeks off and began preparing in earnest for here. I rode the World Cup in Glasgow as my final preparation.

“I've ridden here in Ghent twice before, so I knew that paired with Iljo we stood a very good chance of winning.”

Asked about having the expectations of the whole city of Ghent on his shoulders, O'Shea explained;

“Yeah, a lot of folks have asked me about that, but I'm used to pressure with riding the Olympics and Worlds, so it's not new to me.”

He was pragmatic on the subject of Van Hoecke's crash;

“I was right behind him when it happened, so it could just have easily been me - that's the way it goes.

“You can never say never, and whilst they'd won the first two sprints in the final chase, we were finishing very strongly and had opened a good points gap on them - so I think we'd have won even if Van Hoecke hadn't come down.”

O'Shea now heads south to Switzerland for the Four Days of Zurich, where he rides with Dillier.

“I ride Zurich then return home to Australia to train and prepare for the Worlds in Belarus. I'd like to defend my omnium title but also ride the team pursuit - and maybe the madison, too. But three events is a bit much and I guess I'll have to decide on just two once I'm there.”

All that remained was for O'Shea to join Keisse at the Gentenaar's father's bar, De Karper - just a five minute walk from the velodrome - for a well deserved celebration beer - or two.

See a full gallery of photos here - pictures courtesy of John Young/ and Dirk van Hove




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