Risi / Betschart notch up 23rd win
Teutenberg hurt in crash
With a short track just 166 meters in length, the Bremen Six always offers exciting racing. Last year's winners Jens Veggerby and Jimmi Madsen won't be competing as a team, as Jens is still out of action after injuring his collar bone in a training accident during the summer. The big favourites heading into this one were Etienne de Wilde and his partner Andreas Kappes, who was born in Bremen and is five times a winner in his home "six"- the two of them have also won the last two six-day races, in Leipzig and Berlin.
However, the local win was not to be. In the final madison of the night (one hour plus 50 laps), four teams were in with a chance. By half way through the madison, Risi and Betschart (who had the most points) were 2 laps down on the race leaders. The Swiss "Alpine Express" looked to be out of the reckoning but then, amazingly, Risi broke free from the bunch with Etienne de Wilde glued to his wheel. The two teams gained a lap, and then Risi attacked again immediately, leaping out of the bunch to go for the infamous "doublette", when a team takes two consecutive laps. Nobody could respond, and that, gentle reader, is the story of how Risi and Betschart won their 23rd six-day race.
During the course of the six nights, 128,000 people paid good money to go and watch the racing in Bremen. And just to show that the riders are appreciated, Bruno Risi and his friend-since-childhood Kurt Betschart won a special prize from Shell, their sponsors in this race: 50,000 litres of heating oil!
Germany's Lars Teutenberg suffered a bad crash on the first night (Thursday) when his forks broke after just 30 minutes of racing, pitching him head-first onto the track. The 29-year old rider was taken to hospital with a bad concussion, and his partner Andreas Beikirch decided not to continue alone.
Friday night saw 23,000 spectators paying hard cash to watch the Bremen 6 - and they reckon nobody's interested in track racing! Incidentally, European readers with a satellite dish should be able to catch the last hour of the race live on the German N3 television channel on Tuesday Jan 19th.
Saturday evening's session saw local hero Andreas Kappes and Belgium's Etienne de Wilde take the lead, but by Sunday evening (the Sunday session is held during the afternoon) the Swiss "Alpine Express" of Risi and Betschart was back in front - although don't forget the bonus laps that are awarded every time a team scores 100 points, and Kappes / De Wilde have 292 points so will "gain" a bonus lap with just 8 more points to take the overall race lead.
Meantime, Denmark's Jakob Piil, who only started racing again during the Berlin Six after a few months out due to injuring a hip, decided he'd test how resilient his body is and managed to inspect the track at close quarters during a change with partner Frank Corvers. Jakob is apparently OK apart from a few bruises to his body ... and his pride <g>. And despite "touching the wood", Jakob and his Belgian partner are moving up the list, raising to fifth place after the fourth day.
1. Bruno Risi / Kurt Betschart (CH) 484 points
2. Andreas Kappes / Etienne de Wilde (Ger / Bel) 433 points
1 lap down:
3. Adriano Baffi / Marco Villa (Ita) 441 points
4. Jimmy Madsen / Tayeb Braikia (Den) 385 points
6 laps down:
5. Jakob Piil / Frank Corvers (Den / Bel) 315
7 laps down:
6. Peter van Petegem / Scott McGrory (Bel / Aus) 296
7. Stefan Steinweg / Erik Weisspfennig (Ger) 204
13 laps down:
8. Andreas Walzer / Gerd Doerich (Ger) 156
17 laps down:
9. Carsten Wolf / Juan Llaneras (Ger / Esp) 160
18 laps down:
10. Mario Vonhof / Frank Kowatschitsch (Ger) 235
20 laps down:
11. Jens Lehmann / Andrea Collinelli (Ger / Ita) 149 Neutralised
DNF: Andreas Beikirch / Lars Teutenberg (Ger) after Teutenberg's crash.
Incidentally, six-day races are big events in Germany, and the Bremer Sechstagerennen is no exception: In 1997, the racing attracted 125,500 spectators (130,000 in 1998 - click here for a report on the 1998 race) over the course of the six days - with over 20,000 spectators attending the Friday and Saturday evening sessions! Three special trains were laid on to bring in 5,000 spectators from Hamburg and Hanover, whilst 450 buses brought people from all over Germany to watch, as well as from Holland, Belgium and Denmark.
A 6 day bike race has commercial implications for a city, too: The Bremen six-day race accounted for some 8,000 bed-nights in Bremen's hotels last year, and the catering facilities at the track (31 drinks bars!) sold 300,000 glasses of beer and 50,000 glasses of champagne. Seventeen oxen were roasted during the event.
To find out how to book tickets for the Bremen Six, check out Roger Hughes' booking info.
And while you're here, why not have a look at some photos of cycle racing action from other six-day bike races?
Do you have any news about the Bremen Six? Drop an e-mail to if you do, or send him a fax at 0044 161 476 2914 - Fat Nick reads German, so grotty photocopies of results sheets and local newspapers are gratefully received!
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