Photo Journal - Belgian Toothpaste, Keirins & Madisons at the London Six Day
As the London Six Day comes to an end, the story of the week was how close the young British riders came to upsetting the professional apple cart. The pairing of Germaine Burton and Mark Stewart were strong enough to take a few races during the week, but whilst they had the speed to match the Euro-mafia in a one-off race, they lacked the strength and experience to challenge over the course of the event. There were some memorable races along the way though, as Stewart held off a fast-finishing Dutch pair of Terpstra and Havik to win the team elimination (or Madison Devil to you and me) after the Dutch botched a handsling on the final lap. Terpstra’s toys were properly out of the pram and there was a lot of very un-Dutch gesticulating and shouting when he got back to his cabin..
More consistent than Burton and Stewart in the Madisons, but less visible in the sideshows, were Ollie Wood and Chris Latham riding in the GB colours. They had been leading the Six Day going into the final sprint of the final chase, but lost by one point over the course of the week; that’s just unheard of in Six Day racing - UK-based British riders in their first Six should be happy to just finish within 10 laps of the winner and ideally without knocking any Belgians off. Six Day hardmen Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw (both as Belgian as you can get as they ride for Topsport-Vlaanderen and probably clean their teeth with Belgian toothpaste) clearly appreciated the challenge as the shots of De Pauw and Latham after the final sprint show.
The sprinters lived up to their billing as the event’s hype-men, entertaining the crowds with huge gears and messing about both on and off the track. There were hard-fought competitions for them but the on- and off-track antics of Nate Koch and the Rotherham brothers in particular were as entertaining as their entirely legal headbutting in the Keirins and switching in the sprints.