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REVIEW: Six Day Series 2018/19

29 March 2019

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The Six Day Series was a joust for supremacy played out over seven months, across six iconic cities, culminating in a spellbinding finale.

Three packed nights of bikes, beats and beers at Brisbane’s Anna Meares Velodrome provided the denouement Six Day fans were dreaming of.

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Home track advantage played a part throughout the Series with Berlin, Hong Kong and Manchester all toasting victories from local heroes.

And this was nowhere more evident than in Brisbane as Aussies Kelland O’Brien and Leigh Howard roared to overall victory.

London

Phynova Six Day London is always an occasion – with packed houses each and every night at the Lee Valley Velodrome – but October’s edition was one for the ages.

After six days of intense competition it came down to the final Madison Chase and, indeed, the final lap as Yoeri Havik and Wim Stroetinga went full gas to claim dramatic victory.

Despite disappointment in the elite men it was an Aussie blowout in the elite women as 2017-18 champion Georgie Baker, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Kristina Clonan dominated the rostrum.

Compatriots and close mates Max Levy and Robert Förstemann played out a classic in the men’s sprint, and Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish – despite not competing – sparkled their stardust. London had it all.

Berlin

If you could design a city to rise to a challenge, it would be Berlin and Germany’s one-of-a-kind capital didn’t disappoint back in January.

The Danes had their day in the elite women’s competition as Trine Schmidt completed a rousing return to Six Day after a five-year absence with three-day victory in Berlin, Julie Leth taking silver.

And the Velodrom crowd would roar themselves hoarse for the next three nights, Max Levy sprinting to an eighth title on home track.

The final Madison Chase again proved decisive as world champions Theo Reinhardt and Roger Kluge rode a perfect tactical race to send their supporters delirious.

Copenhagen

With its stage in a city more or less totally surrounded by water, it was always likely Six Day Copenhagen would ebb and flow.

The Ballerup Super Arena rose as seven-time winner Michael Morkov, alongside teen upstart Oliver Wuulf Frederiksen, wrested the initiative to lead after days four and five.

And just as it looked certain a Dane would take top spot on the podium for the tenth time in 11 years, Six Day stalwarts Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw had their telling say.

The Belgians were 91 points behind heading into the final Madison Chase but showed all of their nous to gain a lap and surge to perhaps the season’s most unexpected success.

Melbourne

Australia’s sporting capital promised a white-knuckle ride and boy, did Down Under deliver three nights of pulsating action with lights down and music up.

The feverish atmosphere didn’t simmer down for a single moment as Australian stars got in front and stayed in front with partisan backing.

Annette Edmondson, part of the recently-crowned pursuit quartet crowned world champions, was imperious in the elite women with Alex Manly and Amy Cure also medalling.

Sprint glory went to James Brister, while Kelland O’Brien and Leigh Howard staged a heist to snip the overall title from under the noses of compatriots Sam Welsford and Cam Scott.

Hong Kong

The Six Day Series simply never tires of making history and the inaugural PRURide Six Day Hong Kong marked a seminal first-ever jaunt into Asia.

A warm atmosphere, with riders going out of their way to interact with new and existing Six Day supporters, made for a memorable weekend.

A local darling always helps and double world champion Sarah Lee Wai Sze certainly provided that as her every race win – and there were plenty – was greeted with rapturous celebrations.

Yet just as the Series broke new ground there was no substitute for the steady hands of Yoeri Havik and Kenny De Ketele, who took the men’s title and Neah Evans topped the women’s.

Manchester

Yet another iconic city cuts its Six Day teeth as the seat of British Cycling provided a panoply of stars with a platform to impress over three nights.

The inaugural Phynova Six Day Manchester was a roaring success not least due to the superb performances of British stars that got the north-west crowds off their feat and flying the flag.

Katie Archibald took dominant gold in the women’s, holding off an exhilarating challenge from Laura Kenny that began in earnest on Saturday night.

And Scot Jack Carlin upstaged six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny to wear the sprinters crown, with Havik and Stroetinga claiming a third event victory of the season in assured fashion.

Brisbane

The final three nights of Six Day action served up titanic tussles across elite men, women and sprint fields.

Howard and O’Brien, victorious in Melbourne, managed to repeat the trick on the east coast with a slew of searing performances.

The ultimate tribute to the quality of their racing came in pipping Havik and Stroetinga, outstanding all season long, to the overall title.

Meanwhile Archibald spoiled the triumphant homecoming of a legion of Australia’s top female riders, holding off Amy Cure to seal victory.

And Ethan Mitchell was the hottest property among the sprinters, the Kiwi crossing the Tasman to upstage home favourite Shane Perkins.

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