Tilburg was held last month, but it was for U23 riders only; the big beasts were still honing their form in the kermises and behind the Dernys.
Amsterdam last week was the first elite six day of the winter.
PEZ’s man on the boards was Jesper Morkov, younger brother of Saxo Bank professional, former world madison champion and six day star, Michael.
The 23 year-old has spent the last two summers riding for French amateur club CC Bonnat, near Paris.
PEZ: Why go to France, Jesper?
Jesper Morkov: I wanted to try something new; when you ride in Denmark it’s the same 120 guys, the same races, the same roads.
I wanted to try something fresh and sample the culture of another country at the same time.
PEZ: Was the 2011 season a good one?
JM: No! too many crashes – I had a lot of bad luck.
I’d ride into good shape and then crash or I’d be in the right move but puncture in the finale.
Jesper gets slung into action by Roy Pieters.
PEZ: How many sixes have you ridden?
JM: Amsterdam was number 10, I’ve done Fiorenzuola and Copenhagen three times each, Tilburg twice and Zurich.
PEZ: How did you prepare for the six days?
JM: I rode Tilburg, but that was during the road season, I had a break after that, then did a lot of work on the rollers to get used to the high cadence.
I also trained on the Ballerup track, which is near Copenhagen and where the six day takes place.
PEZ: How was Roy Pieters, your partner?
JM: He was good, he had a little trouble on the first day; Amsterdam is fast race, it’s hard to take laps – the racing can be negative with the peloton moving so fast it’s difficult to get off the front.
PEZ: Why were you not riding with Marc Hester to make a Danish pair?
JM: I only got the call to race the day before it started; Bobby Traksel was sick and I took his place.
It was pretty stressful, I only got the call Sunday afternoon and the race started on Monday evening – I had to pack all of my stuff and get down to Holland from Denmark.
[What he didn't tell us was that he'd done 170 kilometres on the road on Sunday morning]
Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra were unstoppable.
PEZ: How quickly did you find your legs?
JM: I had a break after Tilburg and had really only been training for one-and-a-half weeks before Amsterdam so I found the first two days hard with the high cadence.
Usually the third day is hardest for me but on the fourth day I started to come round and I had really good legs for the last two days.
PEZ: What was the crowd like?
JM: Not so good, a bit disappointing, in fact. The six clashed with the European track championships which were at Apeldoorn; that’s only 45 minutes away in the car.
The kind of people who would go to the six would also go to the track champs – so you have two races fighting for the same fans.
I think maybe that there could have been better scheduling.
PEZ: What’s the track like?
JM: Very fast, 200 metres but not steep enough in the bankings; although it’s good for changes.
The Amsterdam Six was veteran Danny Stam’s good bye to Amsterdam. This Six Day season will be his farewell tour.
PEZ: You rode very well behind the Dernys – you won one race at 73 kph average.
JM: It’s not something I train for, it’s just a natural ability which I have – my brother Michael has it to.
We train a lot behind the Derny at Ballerup.
Amsterdam is a fast track and on the last day the Derny was really, really fast; but it’s not a nice feeling – like I said, the bankings aren’t steep enough for those speeds and the ‘G-force’ hits you really hard.
Keisse and Terpstra celebrate atop the podium.
PEZ: Iljo Keisse won with Niki Terpstra.
JM: He looked really good – strong, impressive.
The race finished at midnight, he had a short sleep, went to Apeldoorn for the European madison championships, teamed up with Kenny De Ketele and won it.
PEZ: Robert Bartko seemed a little below par.
JM: He was not so strong, good but not as good as usual; he didn’t seem to have that extra gear the he usually has.
His partner, Pim Ligthart rode well, he’s Dutch road champion and honours the jersey
Big Bob Bartko wasn’t his typical machine self, while his partner and Dutch champ, Pim Ligthart was just fine.
PEZ: What’s next?
JM: I have Grenoble, then Zurich – I may have Ghent if Iljo doesn’t get to ride.
In the six days you have to make contacts and not be afraid to write emails and ask.
But there’s a lot of luck involved, too.
Jens Erik Madsen isn’t riding the sixes so that’s good for me – I can make a Danish pairing with Marc Hester; I’m riding Grenoble and Zurich with him.
I’m moving up the promoters’ lists – in the future I’d really like to be a six day man, riding the whole circuit.
We’ll be seeing more of Jesper in the Six Days of Grenoble – keep it PEZ for the best six day coverage.