Posted by Editor on 01/26/01
Berlin Six-Day Preview
Thanks in a large part to the generous contribution of Glen Rendall's personal sponsors, BMR Direct and Open Road Media, we have finally arrived in Berlin, ready for Glen Rendall and Alexandre Cloutier to compete in the Berlin six-day. I am accompanying them as manager and general helper, as I did in Zurich and Geneva, so we can look forward to a very positive continuation of that experience. Some good fortune has already come our way: Scott Anderson, a Vancouverite ex-cyclist who lives in Berlin, read about our plans to compete in Berlin on the Canadian Cyclist website. He got in touch with us through the editor, Rob Jones, and here we are staying in his apartment in former East Berlin. We will move into the hotel provided by the race organization once the competition begins on Thursday.
Berlin is the oldest six-day still in existence, and one of the first European six-days ever: though Toulouse held a six in 1906, Berlin's race was, in 1909, the first to be held indoors and is therefore considered to be the first 'real' European six. 2001 marks the 90th running of this event. There have been breaks of several years during its history, notably during the world wars. It was also run twice a year in separate venues from 1960 to 1972. The 1990 edition looked like it would be the last one ever due to the demolition of the stadiums that had housed it. However, in 1997, a new world-class indoor track was completed on the old site of the Werner-Seelinbinder-Halle (considered to be the temple of East German track cycling) and the six-day was revived. Some interesting historical facts:
* This 90th Berlin six is the 400th German six-day ever held;
* The first edition in 1909 was won by the American pairing of Floyd McFarland and Jim Moran;
* The Berlin six has been held on at least six different tracks, most of them temporary, including the dangerous Funkturmhalle where three riders were killed between 1949 and 1952.
* The record for distance covered, back when the race was run for the full 144 hours, was set in 1924 on the Kaiserdamm track by Germans Richard Huschke and Franz Krupkat. They covered 4,544.2 km.
Of course, back in 1924 European riders still came over to North America on expeditionary voyages, to learn how to properly race a six-day. Now the reverse is true and that's why we are here.
Glen and Alex form one of the 18 teams taking part in the amateur race: the Zukunfts-Sechstagerennen (Six-day of the Future). Their racing is concentrated at the beginning of every evening before the pros take to the track. Each night there is a madison and another event, such as a points race or elimination race. There are nine non-German teams in the amateur six-day: besides Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, New Zealand, Holland, Switzerland and Slovakia are represented.
The pro race will be contested by 18 teams, while there is also a sprinter six-day and a stayer six-day (the seven stayers will draft behind huge motorbikes at outrageous speeds while attempting to pass each other). Finally, there will be live music, copious amounts of beer and lots of spectators and their accompanying nebula of cigarette smoke.
The racing begins tomorrow at 5:00 PM CET (11:00 AM EST).
Glen and Alex arrive in Berlin
Berlin Six-Day Night 1
By Kris Westwood
The first evening of racing in Berlin is over for the amateurs, and it is time for us to sit back and reflect on what has happened. The night didn't go as well as Glen Rendall and Alex Cloutier or I had hoped, but it didn't go all that badly either.
The day didn't start off very well at all. We had taken a taxi from the airport when we arrived two days ago, and the driver seemed nice enough and drives a minivan. So we decided to call the same taxi to take us, and our bikes, to the Berlin velodrome. This I did, and arranged to be picked up at a given time. We carried all our junk down the four flights of stairs to wait by the street but, when the taxi was 15 minutes late we decided to call him to see what was up. It turned out he had forgotten to pick us up. Simply forgotten. It had, apparently, slipped his mind. Completely escaped him. It was, according to him, too late because he was at the airport at the other end of the city. In the end, after calling a couple of cab companies, we were picked up by a very pleasant lady from Istanbul, who drove us to the velodrome.
The Berlin velodrome was built in 1997 as part of the Berlin bid for the 2004 Olympic Games. Berlin did not get the Games but did get the velodrome and swimming pool complex, which cost 100,000,000 Deutchmarks. The building that houses the track is sunk into the ground and is covered by a huge, round steel roof. The track itself is a beautiful 250 m wooden oval designed by Schürmann architects, who have built well over 100 tracks since the early 20th century. The transitions are maybe a trifle abrupt, but generally the track is very nice to ride on.
We got to the track a little later than expected but there were no problems getting our accreditation and our team's black jerseys. We soon realized that the amateur side of the Berlin six is not as well organized as Zürich: the amateurs are all shoved into one big room under the track, along with junior riders and other non-professional categories. The one advantage of separating the amateurs completely from the pros is that our racing ends as theirs begins, meaning we're done every night by 7 PM at the latest, while they go on to 2 or 3 AM.
After a very brief reconnaissance of the track the racing began with a 30-lap tempo race, in which the first two riders across the finish line every two laps score points. We decided that Glen and Alex should use this event to just get used to being back on the track: they had been at home for the last six weeks, skiing and riding CompuTrainers, so the transition back to riding their bikes for real was liable to be a bit of a shock.
All 36 riders were on the track for the tempo race, but by the end there were only 34 because of a couple nasty crashes. Fortunately Glen and Alex were able to stay out of trouble, but a Swiss friend of ours, Oliver Mattmann, was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw. He was later released but his mother didn't very much enjoy the experience!
After a break for other racing the amateurs lined up for a 45-minute madison. After a few hairy laps at the beginning, the race quickly settled into a steady rhythm punctuated by sudden accelerations. Glen and Alex started off making some of the same mistakes they had learned to avoid on their previous trip, but quickly got the hang of it again. Again, this race was as much to feel out the strength of the field and their own legs as anything else.
Glen and Alex placed themselves in early move of eight teams that quickly lapped the other ten, but in the last ten minutes they hit a bad patch compounded by their own technical errors, and lost the lap again. To add to this they twice placed fifth in intermediate sprints, just outside the points.
Though the state of things after the first night doesn't look all that good, a couple of factors give us cause for optimism: the teams at the front are all coming directly from other races, meaning they are well adapted to this kind of racing, but should fatigue quickly; and Glen and Alex should adapt more and more to the racing as the race goes on, especially since they are not physically fatigued.
The next five days promise to be quite interesting. Keep tuned for more updates.
I have attached photos from the racing. Glen and Alex are in the black jerseys.
Glen, first night of racing
Alex, first night of racing
Training Workshop - Ontario
Saturday, January 27, 2001
10am - 4pm, Coach Frank Fogolin
Back by popular demand! In itÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s second year this one day training workshop, led by a NCCP Level 3 Cycling Coach, will assist riders with developing a seasonal racing and training plan. Bring your bike for a bike- fitting session. This workshop to be held at the Ontario Sport Alliance Building, 1185 Eglinton Ave East, Toronto in Room 3A. To register please contact the OCA High Performance Coordinator or just show up on Saturday morning!! If you need directions and a map to the building go to www.sportalliance.com
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