Iljo Keisse pairs with Peter Schep for Gent Six in his return to competition
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Iljo Keisse pairs with Peter Schep for Gent Six in his return to competition

by Jered Gruber at 1:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
27 year old Belgian describes his saga as "torture".

Following the ruling by the Belgian Court of Appeals last week, which allows Gent's Iljo Keisse to return to racing, the only question remaining was - who would the popular hometown hero take to the track at the Kuipke arena with next week for the Gent Six Day?

Gent race director and Six Day legend, Patrick Sercu, announced today that it would be the Dutchman, Peter Schep.

"I think this is the only right choice. The rest of the pairings were already formed. I could not break the Danish world champions apart (Rasmussen and Morkov), the German duo of Bartko and Hondo was already a certainty as well. The Dutchman, Peter Schep, was without a teammate, and therefore, the solution was quickly found," said Sercu in an interview with De Standaard today.

The 33 year old Schep has a World Championship title to his credit by way of the points race at the 2006 Worlds. He also had a Six Day victory in Amsterdam in the same year.

Schep will be a solid partner for Keisse, but it will be Keisse that the crowds will be excited to see in his return to cycling.

The status of Keisse's form is still uncertain. The last few months have been anything but conducive to ideal preparation for the QuickStep rider, something that he readily admits to De Morgen.

"I am leaving an emotionally difficult period behind me, but I am very happy that I can return on Tuesday in the Gent Six Day. I have been training really hard the last few days. I hope this won't make me too tired, because I want to race well for the home crowd at the Kuipke. This is a huge weight off of my shoulders."

Speaking separately to Sporza, Keisse lets on to a bigger struggle.

"Emotionally, it was torture. After ten months, I was acquitted, but then there was the CAS appeal. I was in competition, then out, that was difficult mentally. This was followed by two other bits of good news - a baby and then the acquittal…What happened to me over the past two years, I cannot describe in a book. I'd need a series."

Even with the weight of the trial and suspension off of his shoulders, and even with some hard training in recent days, there's no getting around the fact that he's not as sharp as he would otherwise have been with a normal training and racing schedule.

"The fact that I have not raced since July will likely cause problems during the first three days. I do not know where my condition stands. After the first chase on the opening day, I will quickly find out," admitted Keisse to De Morgen.

Looking to his new partner for next week, Keisse seems to be pleased. While Schep isn't a rider known for his sprinting abilities, he is a dependable competitor who won't fold. Keisse is a quick sprinter though, so what Schep won't be able to do, Keisse will likely be able to pick up the slack to gain the precious points.

"I have raced one other time together with Peter Schep. In the sprints, he's not as strong, but I can hopefully compensate. I think about six to seven team are evenly matched with the Danes as the super favorites."

While Gent will be a huge appointment for Keisse, the 27 year old is already looking beyond - he's a free man now, and there are still sixes that need racing this winter.

"I hope to race as much as possible after the Gent Six. QuickStep has embraced me again and I will continue until my contract expires."

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