PruRide Hong Kong off to perfect start
08 March 2019
The opening day of the inaugural PruRide Six Day Hong Kong signified a brave new world, but there was no substitute for experience as Yoeri Havik and Kenny De Ketele came out on top.
The Hong Kong Velodrome was treated to a scintillating curtain raiser as riders settled quickly into a breakneck pace across four fields stacked with talent.
And with savvy accumulation of points a tell-tale sign of Six Day pedigree, reigning Six Day London champion Havik led the charge with team elimination and Madison victories.
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“It takes a long time but sometimes the best way to defend is to attack,” said Havik. “It’s always hard at Six Day, there are some great riders in the field.
“A lot of people complained of jetlag but I just think that means they are tired. We just tried to take every point on offer.”
The Dutchman and his Belgian partner scooped a maximum 60 points from the first two races, pipping Tristan Marguet in the first elimination rubber before taking an early lap in the Madison.
Competition was fierce, though, with New Zealand duo Hugo Jones and Josh Scott taking the 500m Madison time-trial and USA’s Dan Holloway and Adrian Hegyvary the 7.5km points race.
Three teams were left locked on the same number of laps when the lights came up, with Nick Stopler and Melvin van Zijl & Andreas Graf and Andreas Muller keeping pace with the lead.
There was also omnium victory to savour for Neah Evans as Britain swept the elite women’s podium with Emily Nelson and Manon Lloyd scooping second and third.
A stunning triple assault sent Evans to victory in the 7.5km scratch race and Nelson surged to victory in the tempo and elimination races.
“It couldn’t have gone any better really,” said Evans, who ended the day’s racing on 90 points.
“I had a long sleep to get over the jetlag – I probably feel amazing so I’ll get a good night’s sleep and go again tomorrow.”
And the sprinters delivered too, with a remarkable track stand tussle between Shane Perkins and Pavel Keleman keeping the Hong Kong crowd transfixed.
The pair were locked in combat at the top of the track for nearly two minutes, with the Czech making the first move before Perkins swooped to conquer and take the points.
Keleman ended the day top of the general classification with 50 points after edging past Perkins in the 200m flying time-trial.
“We’re here to put on a bit of a show and show off some of the sprinter’s moves,” Perkins said of his showdown with Keleman.
“That’s what we did there. Martin (Bridgwood, race director) gave us a shove but it was a bit of fun.
“Pavel’s got a long sprint on him so I wanted to try and get him in front and set him up on the last bend which I did and it worked out alright.
“It’s hard to always think of new moves, we race each other a lot internationally. It’s good fun to come here and have some good fun with the racing.”
Home favourite Lee Wai Sze, greeted like a hero by her adoring fans, claimed victory in both 200m flying time-trial and keirin to surge into an early lead.
But she was pipped in the final by Miriam Weite, her tussle with the German already emerging as a tantalising narrative to be played out across the first ever edition of the event.