The Ghent Six Day got underway on Tuesday evening with the usually exhilarating racing on the wooden track of Kuipke Velodrome.
But some fans will not be waking up with the usual Ghent Six hangover as no beer is being served in the centre of the track due to Covid-19 safety measures.
The racing kicked off last night (November 16) after a year away due to the pandemic. The early leaders after the first night of racing are German Six Day star Roger Kluge along with Lotto-Soudal team-mate Jasper De Buyst who have clocked up 41 points and taken a lap on the competition.
The racing started with the double points race, team elimination and derny race, with defending champions Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys victorious in the first event.
This was followed by Olympic and world champions Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen taking the first team race. Some dramatic derny racing action saw Iljo Keisse take a win over Mørkøv meaning Keisse and partner Mark Cavendish earned some solid points.
But it was Kluge and De Buyst who lead the way thanks to a bonus lap, meaning they have a lap in hand over the rest of the field, with De Ketele and Ghys leading the rest of the pack.
The usual party atmosphere was a bit more subdued this year due to the lack of alcohol in the track centre, where the main noise usually erupts from.
This is due to the organisers of the event deciding that due to the rising cases of Covid-19 in Belgium banning alcohol would be necessary to maintain the health and safety of spectators.
Beer, as you may know, is a big part of the Belgian culture with some of the best brands coming from the nation. Images of Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins knocking back Chimay Blue and Westmalle after winning in 2016 still live long in the memory.
Nevertheless, there is still a party feel at the racing this year, just maybe a tad more controlled than usual.
The organisers said: "The sporting program takes precedence, the atmosphere and conviviality remain very important, but this year will be accompanied by a little more discipline and common sense."
Racing continues this evening up until early Sunday evening where the overall winner will be decided.
In the support programme is under 23 racing, with Britain's Josh Tarling taking part after a successful road season in the junior ranks that saw him take second in the junior World Championships time trial as well as 13th in the junior Paris-Roubaix.
Ghent Six Day 2021 standings after opening night
1. Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge, 41 points
2. Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys, 78 points and 1 lap
3. Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen, 65 points and 1 lap
4. Iljo Keisse and Mark Cavendish, 57 points and 1 lap
5. Otto Vergaerde and Jules Hesters, 39 points and 1 lap
6. Jonas Rickaert and Silvan Dillier, 29 points and 1 lap
7. Fabio Van Den Bossche and Vincent Hoppezak, 11 points and 3 laps
8. Morgan Kneisky and Matias Malmberg, 22 points and 4 laps
9. Yoeri Havik and Jan-Willem van Schip, 46 points and 5 laps
10. Gerben Thijssen and Michele Scartezzini, 0 points and 5 laps
11. Roy Pieters and Maikel Zijlaard, 4 points and 6 laps
12. Tuur Dens and Marc Hester, 28 points and 12 laps
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1