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Havik and Stroetinga take Six Day London title after last-gasp drama

29 October 2018

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Yoeri Havik and Wim Stroetinga nicked an incredible Madison Chase on the final few metres to be crowned Phynova Six Day London champions in one of the tightest finishes in the Series’ history.

The Dutch pair battled with Germany’s Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt and Aussie pair Kell O’Brien and Leigh Howard throughout the week and it came down to a final sensational dash for the line to decide who would take bragging rights away from Lee Valley VeloPark.

DUTCH DUO DELIGHT CROWDS

British interest came in overnight leaders Andy Tennant and Chris Latham, whose manful efforts to take what would have been a winning lap in the closing stages of the Madison had the crowds yelling their lungs out.

Catching the eye with their explosive pace and measured tactics, the pair sealed their maiden Six Day title in style, and they revealed they backed themselves to have the extra gas needed to get ahead when it mattered most.

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“It was always really close, especially on points, but we always had in the back of our minds that when it comes to it we always have that extra speed so we try to be on the same laps,” said Havik.

“On Friday we lost a lap so it was really important that we got one back on Saturday, so when we did that we had confidence in ourselves that we could win. As soon as we had a lap back we were really confident in the last 15 laps.

“It was a full house and people went crazy, I’m just really happy that we’ve won this, it’s a great Six Day to win, it’s a big thing for us.”

Stroetinga added: “I wasn’t here last year because of a crash and I always said if I go to London i go for the win, and today it happened.

“The only thing was a bit tricky was to go over 400 points to get a lap on the British and we managed that and in the sprints we know we can beat almost anybody.”

In the sprint competition, Max Levy showed his class as he held off the challenge of compatriot Robert Foerstemann, while Georgia Baker spearheaded a terrific Australian performance to take the women’s competition.

DANES DRAW EARLY BLOOD

It was Danes Marc Hester and Jesper Morkov who reigned supreme on Day 1 courtesy of a stunning opening Madison Chase, before Havik and Stroetinga took control after an eye-catching team elimination success.

At the midway point Australians Howard and O’Brien held an overnight lead when the former triumphed in the final Derny race but were toppled by the ever-dangerous reigning world Madison champions Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt after Day 4.

BRITS FIGHT WAY TO TOP

Individual delights in the endurance rides included home star Adam Blythe taking a Derny victory on day one, before Ireland’s Fintan Ryan saw a magnificent win in the same race on day four.

Day 5 brought British glory to the Lee Valley VeloPark, with the consistent Andy Tennant and Chris Latham finally seizing the top spot they had threatened to take all championship, keeping a lap clear of their nearest challengers despite others being ahead of them on points.

HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!

The final Madison Chase of the penultimate day was one of the races for the ages. Stroetinga and Havik displayed almost superhuman power as they surged to a double lap take, to the wonder of the raucous hoards in the stands.

But it was Howard and O’Brien who pipped them to the finish in an equally enthralling final sprint to set up a delicious final night of action, which did not disappoint.

Kluge and Reinhardt set down a marker by streaking clear in the team elimination, before Adam Blythe sent the home faithful into raptures with a memorable Derny for him and Jon Dibben.

However, the final hour-long Madison Chase came down to the final few inches in 60 minutes of relentless drama.

HAVIK PUTS THE PEDAL TO THE METAL

It became a three-way tussle between the Dutch, the German world champion and the Australians with regards to points, and it was Havik again who delivered the speed when it mattered on the final dahs for the line, nicking victory ahead of O’Brien and Kluge.

All the while, Tennant and Latham sent the crowd ballistic when they mounted an onslaught to take a decisive lap with 20 laps to go, which would have seen them take the title.

However, it was a bridge two far for the Brits, who managed to stretch a half-lap effort before being reined in and eventually finished fourth.

THE RETURN OF LEGENDS

Away from the boards, the event was treated to the appearance of two Six Day and cycling legends. Sir Bradley Wiggins joined Matt Stephens on presenting duties for the second half of the week, as well as donning the headphones for commentary.

And Mark Cavendish, after watching from the sidelines on the first night, donned his Lycra and leading out the teams on the elimination race on the penultimate night.

The Manx Missile is working his way back to fitness after a long battle with glandular fever and his winning smile lit up the velodrome as he was cheered on by the packed out stands.

RECORD-BREAKING LEVY LIGHTS UP THE VELODROME

Max Levy completed a stunning performance with a classy victory in the final keirin of the night to be crowned sprinters champion.

He held off the challenge of ‘Quadzilla’ Robert Foerstemann, who enjoyed the overall lead in the early stages of the competition before Levy fought back in style.

And Levy, a four-time world champion, was delighted to have sealed a maiden Six Day London victory.

Levy said: “I feel great, it was the one i was looking for, i have a small collection of these small pieces of wood but i’m very happy that this is with me now.

“I’m going to have a drink of gin to celebrate the week as i think it was a great week of racing. I was world champion in the Keirin and I was waiting all week for this to do it and I kept everything for this one last race.

“You have it and plan it in your mind but it doesn’t always go that way, but if you push it then sometimes it goes your way.”

Foerstemann added: “It’s been a really, really good week. We had a world record holder in Francois Pervis, a world champion in Shane Perkins and Max Levy so I’m really happy with a second place at the end of the six days.

“The whole week was one big highlight! Great atmosphere, great races, great riders, the whole six-day week was good.”

QUADZILLA SETS EARLY PACE

The competition was set alight on the first night when Foerstemann topped the sprinters’ general classification with two powerful wins to set the tone.

Not to be outdone, his compatriot Max Levy also shone and kept getting better, and quicker and quicker as the week went on.

Taking the overall lead at the halfway point after nicking a win over Foerstemann in the sprint finals on day three, Levy proved he meant business as he wowed the crowd in the 200m flying time trial.

He smashing the Six Day record with a thundering 10.102 second lap on Thursday, the German then went and broke it again on Friday with an astonishing 10.004 time – sadly he could not get under the ten-second barrier but a Six Day London record is not to be sniffed at!

Alex Spratt, the former rugby player, impressed hugely on his debut after just 18 months in the saddle, his natural power working superbly to his advantage, while Lewis Oliva’s early dash for the line in the keirin on Day 5 was a moment of aggressive magic that stunned the rest.

Foerstemann won the final sprint head-to-head between the pair, before Levy surged through at the last to take a final keirin triumph and confirm his title in style.

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