An eventful Bremen six-day cycle race saw the lead change hands several times over, before Denmark's Jens Veggerby and Jimmy Madsen came through with a late surge to win the event.
Fresh from their victory in the Cologne Six last week, Germany's Andreas Kappes and Italy's Adriano Baffi took the lead in the Bremen Six on the first night and successfully defended their lead during the second night's racing. Kappes also won last year's Bremen Six.
On the third night (Saturday), top Danish six-day stars Jens Veggerby and Jimmy Madsen took the lead after their victory in the evening's main 45-minute Madison, with a one-lap lead over several other teams. However, Fat Nick predicted they'd have their work cut out, as three of the teams who were just one lap down actually have more points than the flying Danes, so they'd automatically take the lead if they got the lap back - and at 166 meters, Bremen has a short track!
This indeed proved to be the case. By Sunday evening, Swiss stars Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart had shot into the lead, with the Danes one lap down in fourth place.
Even this proved temporary. The fifth night of the race (Monday night) saw Andreas Kappes and Adriano Baffi re-take the lead. We entered the final night of the race with bated breath, bearing in mind that two of the teams who looked to be one lap down would "gain" a lap when they got 400 points!
As it turned out, who had the most points became an irrelevance: in a cheeky and bold move, Danish aces Jens Veggerby and Jimmy Madsen succeeded in gaining a lap on the bunch just five minutes before the end of the final session, thereby winning the Bremen Six by one lap. Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart, themselves no strangers to grabbing a lap at the last minute, were full of praise for the Danes: "They deserved to win", said the Swiss pair.
The organisers of the Bremen Six were pleased to have Jan Ullrich in attendance to fire the starters' gun to set the race underway. Since winning the Tour de France last summer, Ullrich has become synonymous with cycling in Germany, and his presence worked wonders for ticket sales. For more about "the Ullrich effect", visit the race organisers' own web site (in German only). Incidentally, Fat Nick would like to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to Rolf Aldag (Ullrich's Telekom teammate, and second in the 1997 Dortmund Six), currently recovering from a broken thigh and collar bone after a coming together with a car whilst out training.
Following his professional six-day debut in Zurich last December, Britain's Rob Hayles also rode the Bremen Six, finishing second to last. Still, he beat Olympic pursuit champion Andrea Colinelli.....
The Bremen Six suffered more than its share of problems this year: The amateur six was overshadowed by a serious crash on the Sunday evening, with German rider Olaf Pollack being taken to hospital suffering from concussion. Also, several riders have had to forego the dubious pleasure of riding round the track with a video recorder under one arm, as callous thieves broke into the offices of the organisers and stole several televisions and video recorders that were to have been awarded as prizes for the various sprints!
Veggerby/Jimmi Madsen (Denmark)- 392 points
+ 1 lap:
2. Andreas Kappes/Adriano Baffi (Germany/Italy)- 498 points
3. Bruno Risi/Kurt Betschart (Switzerland)- 490 points
4. Silvio Martinello/Marco Villa (Italy) - 475 points
+ 3 laps:
5. Scott McGrory/Juan Llaneras (Australia/Spain) - 235 points
+ 8 laps:
6. Carsten Wolf/Gerd Dörich (Germany) - 253 points
7. Etienne de Wilde/Matt Gilmore (Belgium/Australia)- 198 points
+ 15 laps:
8. Jakob Piil/Tayeb Braikia (Denmark)- 302 points
9. Andreas Beikirch/Andreas Walzer (Germany) 218 points
+ 20 laps
10. Guido Fulst/Mario Vonhof (Germany) 127 points
11. Rob Hayles/Stefan Steinweg (Great Britain/Germany) 149 points
12. Andrea Colinelli/Lars Teutenberg (Italy/Germany) 110 points
Once upon a time, Fat Nick trained as an accountant. Do not fear, gentle reader! The therapy is proving most effective, and Fat Nick is almost fully recovered. However, the experience has left him with a bit of a fascination for obscure figures.
For example, last year's Bremen Six Day cycle race attracted 125,500 spectators over the course of the six days - with over 20,000 spectators attending the Friday and Saturday evening sessions! Three special trains were laid on to bring in 5,000 spectators from Hamburg and Hanover. 450 buses brought people from all over Germany to watch, as well as from Holland, Belgium and Denmark.
A six-day race has commercial implications for a city, too: The Bremen six-day race accounted for some 8,000 bed-nights in Bremen's hotels last year, and the catering facilities at the track (31 drinks bars!) sold 300,000 glasses of beer and 50,000 glasses of champagne. Seventeen oxen were roasted during the event.
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