Many cycling fans dream of going to watch a six-day bike race. Fat Nick is going watch a couple of days of the 2009 Berlin Six.
Saturday 24 January
Sunday 25 January
Monday 26 January 2009
Tuesday 27 January 2009
Click here for photos of the 2009 Berliner Sechstagrennen
Final results: Wednesday 28 January 2009
Can it really be ten years since I was last at the Berlin Six-Day bike race?
The velodrome in Berlin is terrific. It is located on the eastern part of the city on the Landsberger Allee, which used to be called the Leninallee when I lived Berlin in the early 1980's. Many of the old street names in East Berlin have now been renamed to fit the new political realities. But I digress; the velodrome is easily accessible either by tram or by S-Bahn, with a direct passage into the velodrome from the Landsberger Allee S-Bahn station.
The track at the Berlin velodrome is virtually identical to the Manchester track at 250 meters. The spectator facilities are good, with plenty of bars, comfortable seating, lots of different food available around the track, plenty of loos, and very short queues at the bars. All commentary was in German, which was not a problem for me but may be important to other visitors. However, the Berlin velodrome has the best scoreboard that I have seen at any six-day race, with regular displays of the overall positions (laps and points for each team) and of the position within a particular race. The organisers deserve credit for this, as the scoreboards at both the Ghent and Munich six-days were hard to follow.
It is a funny year in the world of six-day racing. Lots of riders are out of action. Iljo Keisse is unable to race after failing a doping test at the 2008 Ghent Six - and the six-day world misses him. German riders Olaf Pollack and Andreas Beikirch are out of action after crashes at the recent Bremen six-day race. And Dutch favourite Rob Slippens is out, apparently retired after his serious road crash a year or so back. Add to this that top dogs Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli are having a difficult year, and the mix looks interesting!
Meantime, this will be Erik Zabel's last bike race. Lots of fans will be hoping he ends his career with a win here, but the other riders certainly won't offer him the victory on a plate!
Oh, and UCI President Pat McQuaid visited the Berlin to fire the starting pistol and get the race underway. Some journalists had expected him to be in Australia in the sunshine, watching Lance Amstrong's return to professional bike racing. But me, I find it entirely understandable that he'd sooner be in the snow in Berlin, watching a six-day race, and witnessing the end of Erik Zabel's career.
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