Risi / Betschart win Zürich Six for 5th time
The Zurich six-day bike race undergoes some fairly radical changes this year, with the new race director Urs Freuler chopping a couple of hours off each day's program so that the session finish at one or two in the morning, instead of the five a.m. finishes of past years. And, as befits an ex-rider, Freuler has installed kitchen facilities in the riders' backstage area, and even the masseurs get to sleep in a hotel now - and a four-star one at that. Life just ain't what it used to be....
Last year's winners Silvio Martinello and Marco Villa will face a stiff challenge from local heros Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart, provided they have got over the saddle sores they both suffered at Ghent (where Martinello and Villa won).
By the end of the first night, Jimmi Madsen and Scott McGrory were in the lead, but Risi and Betschart had set new track records in the Madison over 20, 30, 40 and 50 km. The new 50 km record stands at 54 minutes 19.4 seconds - or 55.224 km/h, if you prefer. Personally, I think I'll stick to spectating. During the second night, Adriano Baffi and Andrea Collinelli briefly held the lead when they gained a lap on the field during the evening's main Madison, but Madsen and McGrory pulled level when they were awarded a lap on passing the 100-point mark.
Tuesday night saw almost 6,000 spectators at the Zurich Hallenstadion where the Zürcher Sechstagerennen is held. Part of the appeal was the chance to see top Swiss roadmen, such as world road champion Oscar Camenzind, Rolf Järmann and the Zberg brothers racing in a special two-day omnium series, partnered by the six-day stars. This is a new part of the programme, introduced by race director Urs Freuler. Camenzind was partnered by world Madison champion Etienne de Wilde, and the two world champions won the event on Tuesday. Given that the weather in Zurich is cold, with snow and slush everywhere, Camenzind was probably happy to get off the road for a couple of days - even if it was his first race on a steeply banked velodrome!
People often ask me what actually happens at a six-day cycle race -do they just go round in circles the whole time? Well, Wednesday's programme in Zürich kicks off in the afternoon, with a "kids special". The riders love these special afternoon sessions, and I imagine they will be eagerly looking forward to the chance to race to musical accompaniement from "The Mini Spice Girls" and "a boy band". The amateur six-days is on at 19:00 (Belgium's De Duytsche and Vermeersch lead the amateur six), followed at 20:20 by a sprint competition (Australia's Darryn Hill is leading that at the moment), then a 100 minute Madison at 20:30, with the road stars omnium at 22:15, more sprinting at 22:40, a motor-paced race behind the big motors at 22:50 (Italy's Cannone, paced by Bruno Walrave, won this on Tuesday, with Germany's Carsten Podlesch second), more of the road stars omnium at 23:20, a sprinter's handicap at 23:50, more of the omnium at 00:10, then a half hour Madison at 00:30. Off to bed by one o'clock in the morning, ready for work the next day.
Etienne de Wilde was suffering with a touch of 'flu, and had to be neutralised for some of the events. Eventually, he had to abandon the race, and his partner Andreas Kappes teamed up with a French rider whose partner had also abandoned.
On the fourth night (Thursday night), last year's winners Silvio Martinello and Marco Villa and local favourites Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart gained a lap to take the lead in the race. Madsen and McGrory werre still very much in the race, though, as were Baffi and Colinelli. Only two night to go and the race was still wide open.
The final night's racing must have been exciting stuff, because the race wa not decided until the very last sprint, when Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart won by just four points, with four teams all on the same lap. As six-day races go, that's a close finish!
1 Bruno Risi Kurt Betschart (SUI), 291 points
2 Silvio Martinello Marco Villa (ITA), 287 points
3 Jimmi Madsen (DEN) Scott McGrory (AUS), 252 points
4 Adriano Baffi Andrea Collinelli (ITA), 219 points
13 laps down:
5 Frank Corvers Lorenzo Lapage (BEL), 105 points
14 laps down:
6 Tayeb Braikia (DEN) Rik van Slijcke (BEL), 126 points
24 laps down:
7 Mario Vonhof Jens Lehmann (GER), 110 points
25 laps down:
8 Erik Weispfennig Stefan Steinweg (GER), 80 points
26 laps down:
9 Pierre-Yves Archambault (FRA) Lars Teutenberg (GER), 68 points
27 laps down:
10 Alexander Aeschbach Christian Weber (SUI), 111 points
30 laps down:
11 Andreas Beikirch Gerd Dörich (GER), 116 points
36 laps down:
12 Andreas Kappes (GER) Jean-Michel Monin (FRA), 59 points
38 laps down:
13 Roger Furrer Peter Jörg (SUI), 163 points
14 Ivan Cerioli (ITA) Rob Hayles (GBR), 35 points
40 laps down:
15 Guido Fulst Ralf Liehner (GER), 61 points
42 laps down:
16 Franco Marvulli Adrian Strüby (SUI), 127 points
Did not finish: Etienne Dewilde (BEL) and Carlos da Cruz (FRA).
To find out how to book tickets for the Zürich 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 last year's six-day bike races?
Do you have any news about the Zürich 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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