Six Day London, the classic cycle competition which began in London in 1878, made its return in the modern era to the Olympic Park velodrome in 2015. This year it’s back and part of something much bigger.
The event is now part of a four-city series along with dates in Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen followed by a winner-takes-all grand finale in Mallorca, next March.
International teams competing in the series will accrue points at each event, with the top 12 men’s teams and top 12 individual women qualifying for the Mallorca showdown.
“But until now it has always been individual events, different rules and a variety of owners and operators.
“A structured Six Day series will revitalise the Six Day scene – and also transform track cycling in general.
“The crowd will love it as the season develops, but it is also a big step forward for the riders – serious racing, serious prize money – and serious fun.”
As is traditional at Six Day races, each event will feature a live DJ and entertainment which, combined with the all-action racing, will produce a fantastic atmosphere for riders and supporters alike.
Last year’s winning pairing, Moreno de Pauw and Kenny de Ketele, will be back in London to defend their crown this season, and the duo – racing as Team Belgium – are all in for the Series.
Yoeri Havik and Wim Stroetinga will make up Team Netherlands, with Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kniesky competing for France.
Havik, who rode in London last year alongside Niki Terpstra, said: “The idea of the series is great, to have consistent teams, from countries, then the crowds can recognise us and you get a bit more of a build up.”
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.