What is Six Day?
A Six Day race is one of the oldest forms of track cycling, featuring the world’s best riders. With a men’s competition across all six days, a women’s competition taking place over three days and sprinters too, a Six Day takes the best of track cycling and mixes it with a fantastic party atmosphere.
THE RACE TYPES
The Madison is the quintessential ‘Six Day’ event, invented at Six Day and named after Madison Square Gardens. With the Madison now part of the Olympic Games programme, both men and women will have Madison races in the Six Day Series. Riding in pairs, each team member takes turns to race, bringing his or her partner into the race with a ‘hand-sling’. Highly tactical, Six Day Madison races still concentrate on ‘taking a lap’ which is the traditional format and can lead to hugely tactical, as well as explosive racing.
Throughout a Six Day event there are differing versions of the race, including a 45 minute chase, a 500m Time Trial and the Madison Finale which often decide the entire event.
Unlike most races, the action tends to take place at the back of the pack in the elimination. Every two laps the rider at the back of the race is eliminated – all the way through until there are only two riders left, who sprint it out for the win. It’s not possible to take a lap in an elimination race.
In the derny race, a rider from each team lines up behind a motorised pacer. The derny pacers are often former track racers, whose facial expressions range from ‘inscrutible’ to ‘very inscrutible’. Riding in the slipstream of the derny allows for fast and spectacular racing. The pacer / rider combination is done by drawing names from a hat pre-race.
The Six Day Series 2017-18 will feature a full UCI Omnium for the Women. This consists of four events – a 7.5km Scratch Race, a 7.5km Tempo Race, an Elimination Race and finally, a 20km Points Race. The Scratch race is a simple first past the line race, the Tempo race sees intermediate sprints occur every lap after the first five laps, with one point awarded to the first rider. Riders also gain points for lapping the main bunch, while riders caught by the main peloton must leave the track and lose all their points. The Elimination sees the rider at the back of the race eliminated every two laps. The points for these races are converted into overall points and taken into the final points race, where the event is won (and lost) as points are awarded for taking a lap and for sprints every 10 laps.
The sprinters take to the track individually as they take on the clock in this crowd-pleaser. Building speed as they go, the showmen take two and a half laps to reach top speed and whip the crowd up into a frenzy before the bell is rung as they exit the last corner. That’s the cue for them to hit full speed as the clock starts and 200m later it’s all over as the next rider takes to the track and it starts again.
The spinters line up in the home straight as a single derny pacer circles the track awaiting the starting gun to signal the start of the race. The riders then follow the pacer jostling for position behind him for five and a half laps – no rider is allowed to pass the derny bike – as he reaches 50kph. As the derny leaves the track with two and a half laps to go, it’s every man for himself as the riders go all out for the win.