Sprinters are the dynamite in the powder keg atmosphere of Six Day Cycling and in the 2018/19 season, it was in sprint finals that sparks truly flew.
From fireworks on the boards in London and Berlin, an audience with sprint royalty in Manchester and a Brisbane finale bonanza, the recently-concluded series had it all.
Each and every night they jousted across keirin and flying time trial events, setting the stage for sprint finals – a breakneck, first across the line battle testing nerve, tactics and sheer pace.
But which were the best of the final head-to-heads? We take a look at six of the best.
London calling for German titans
Max Levy and Robert Förstemann are firm friends and compatriots, but there was no quarter asked for or given at Phynova Six Day London as they contested six sprint finals.
Levy had a slight edge all week long, bouncing back from opening night defeat with a tactical masterclass on day two, leading three wins to two coming into Sunday evening.
Förstemann had the last laugh in the sixth and last final, however, scorching Levy on the final bend and nipping the photo finish by a nose.
The man affectionately known as ‘Quadzilla’ missed out in the general classification but served up a memorable ending to a superb week at the Lee Valley Velodrome.
PHOTO FINISH! ????
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) October 28, 2018
Berlin’s wall of noise
Track stand tussles might have got Martin Bridgwood in a tizz but in general, they made for compelling viewing.
Six Day Berlin brought one of the best, a stand-off between Denis Dmitriev and Levy who decided to balance for what felt like hours in the sprint finals.
They were so close, they were touching and despite the best efforts of Martin and his whistle, neither gave an inch.
After showing off their strength and tenacity, Levy moved over and blinked first; it was the German who won the sprinter’s competition in front of his home fans for the eighth time.
So you showed good balance to get on that busy underground?
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) April 23, 2019
Cool-hand Awang impressed Down Under
It’s no mean feat to stun the Six Day Melbourne crowd into silence, but that’s exactly what Azizulhasni Awang managed.
James Brister was a popular winner of the inaugural competition but so many fans will remember for the final night of racing for the Malaysian’s showboating.
Neither wanted to make a move and from the highest point of the track, Awang showed nerves of steel and took both his hands off the bike.
Once they were back safely on his machine, he started the sprint and claimed the honours in the final race ahead of home favourite Brister.
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) April 26, 2019
Perko’s homecoming ends in sprint success
Shane Perkins returned to the boards at Six Day Brisbane and showed the country of his birth exactly what he’s all about yet again.
Ethan Mitchell claimed the crown in Brisbane and led Perkins in the cat-and-mouse chases.
But in the final sprint, Perkins levelled with Mitchell on the back straight but was behind in the final stretch.
One last effort ensured Perkins overhauled Mitchell by the smallest of margins on the line.
BATTLE – Russia ????
WAR – New Zealand ????
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) April 14, 2019
Hong Kong hails home hero
All eyes were on Sarah Lee Wai Sze at the inaugural PruRide Six Day Hong Kong as she excelled in front of her home crowd.
At the end of Saturday, she had proven her scintillating form claiming four race wins, the second-most ever at close of play on Day Two.
In the final sprint she defeated close pal Miriam Welte and got her hands on the overall sprint trophy – a red-hot atmosphere proving there’s nowhere better to win than in front of your own fans.
A fitting end ????????@miriamwelte and Sarah Lee go hammer and tongs but the home favourite edges it ????
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) March 10, 2019
Full gas earns Carlin scalp of Kenny
With such a stacked field at Phynova Six Day Manchester, it was always going to be a close contest.
Heading into the final sprint debutant Jason Kenny and Jack Carlin were tied on 118 points ready for the winner-takes-all shot at glory.
On his home track, the crowd was expectant of Kenny, but it was Carlin who came out on top in the battle of the Brits.
The two-time silver medallist at the 2018 Track World Championships outfoxed the elder statesmen to edge ahead as they crossed the line and claim his crown.
A Six Day scorcher played out on the National Cycling Centre boards ????
— Six Day (@sixdaycycling) March 27, 2019