Cycling is adding another date to the sporting calendar bringing back adrenaline-fuelled Six Day Racing to the Lee Valley VeloPark in the Olympic Park in October.
Unveiling the plan to re-introduce the challenge to the country after a 35-year absence were Six Day London ambassador Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish.
Six Day London will be a reboot of the traditional Six Day format which became a top sporting event in the US in the middle of the last century and is popular in continental Europe but actually began in Islington in 1878.
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Crowd favourites such as the Madison and Derny races will be combined with women’s, junior and talent events, to create a blend of racing action. There will be more than 60 races over the six days attracting up to 34,000 spectators watching 36 elite male riders, 20 women riders, eight sprinters and emerging talents.
Sir Chris said: “Track cycling is one of the most exciting spectator sports in the world and the innovative ideas that [backers] Madison Sports Group have around the promotion and development of Six Day Racing are extremely exciting.”
As well as dramatic racing on the world’s fastest indoor track, the six nights will also provide fans with music from DJs and light shows creating an unprecedented atmosphere in the Velodrome.
Madison Sports Group CEO Mark Darbon said: “We intend for Six Day London to become a must see event on the UK sporting calendar and we’ve been working with Mark and Chris to ensure we deliver incredible sporting action with world class riders and teams.
“The fan experience is very important to us, for those in the arena and watching on TV. We’re investing heavily in in-venue sports presentation and entertainment to ensure the atmosphere is electric.
“And, we’re working with broadcasters to offer a new perspective for fans, looking to events such as the America’s Cup for inspiration in using technology to ensure the sport is as exciting and as accessible as possible.”
Mark Cavendish said: “I am excited about Six Day London and the sport of Six Day racing returning to the UK. I have no doubt that [MSG} will deliver ground-breaking spectacles for athletes and fans alike, helping to take the sport to the next level.”
HOW IT WORKS
■ Teams of two riders compete against each other over six consecutive evenings in sprint and endurance disciplines.
■ In some disciplines it is possible for teams to lap the field. Taking laps lifts a team up the overall standings, the “general classification”.
■ The team that has taken the most laps on the rest of the field will lead the general classification, but should teams find themselves on the same number of laps then the numbers of points in each discipline will decide the winner.
Riding in pairs each team member takes turns to race at high speed until he brings his teammate into the action by means of a dramatic “hand-sling”. The opening Madison requires the riders to fight for points in a series of intermediate sprints and at the finish line. In the second Madison, riders concentrate solely on taking laps over the opposition.
In the Derny race, a single rider from the top eight teams lines up behind a motor-pacer piloting a specially designed moped or “derny”. The slipstreaming effect of the derny means that high speeds, and phenomenal changes in pace characterise this discipline. Tactics are sometimes decided in advance between the rider and the pacer, as communication on the limit of physical endurance is tricky.
After a short warm-up, every two laps the last rider over the line is eliminated until only two teams remain. Once the final two teams remain, a sprint ensues to decide who takes the maximum points.
Team Time Trial
All out speed and the perfect handling are the ingredients necessary for success against the clock over two-laps. Each team takes to the track alone. The first rider will go all-out to get up to top speed before throwing in their teammate who, having gained the speed advantage of slipstreaming his partner, will finish the effort.
The Super Sprint resembles the Elimination Race. Teams have to stay close to the front as the last riders are removed from the race on Elimination laps. Six teams remain to fight it out in the Super Sprint.
This event is similar to the Derny but is even faster, using specialised track bikes and far larger capacity pacing motorcycles. The pacers stand up to block more of the wind, and the riders bikes have a smaller front wheel to allow them to bend down more to improve their slipstream effect.