Amsterdam kicks off the Six-day season
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Amsterdam kicks off the Six-day season

by Ben Atkins at 2:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 
Tonight sees the first night of the “Zesdaagse van Amsterdam” – the Six-days of Amsterdam – and marks the beginning of a winter of traditional track race events all over cycling’s European heartland. After the Dutch capital the circus will move on to Grenoble, France and Dortmund, Germany followed by Milan, Italy and Gent, Belgium.

Top of the bill in Amsterdam will be local riders Danny Stam and Leif Lampeter, but the mostly Dutch field will be pushed hard by Swiss former World Champions Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli; a strong challenge also come from Belgian pair Kenny De Ketele and Iljo Keisse. The event will also mark the return to the velodrome of former World sprint, Keirin and kilometre champion Theo Bos. While he is no stranger to the boards, Bos is new to the endurance based events of six-day racing, but after a year on the road with the Rabobank development team “The Boss” should be able to stay the distance and is partnered by wily veteren Peter Schep.

In common with a number of Six-day races, notably its Dutch neighbour in Rotterdam in January, the Amsterdam Six-days runs a parallel event for women. Star attractions this year will be 2008 runners-up Vera Koedooder (Lotto-Belisol) and Kirsten Wild (Cervélo TestTeam).

Six-day racing harks back to the very earliest days of cycling, when riders were expected to literally ride non-stop for six days and nights. The winner was the rider who managed to accumulate the highest number of laps over the period; the race was run over six days was because they wanted riders to race for a week but had to take Sundays off. The Tour de France was reportedly inspired by the six-days, whereby the organisers wanted to create a similar challenge on the road – hence the original Tours had six stages.

The 15 teams of two in the modern “sixes” will do battle in a series of Madisons, eliminations, points races and Derny races, with the emphasis as much on entertainment as sport. The duo that has managed to complete the most laps, or won the most points, at the end of the event is the winner.
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