Not even two last day crashes could prevent emerging British stars Germain Burton and Mark Stewart from following in the footsteps of the likes of Simon Yates and Owain Doull by winning the under-23 AVS Cup at the Ghent Six on Sunday.
The pair, both 20, are the third British duo in five years to win the competition inside the Belgian city’s famed Kuipke Velodrome. Yates and Doull triumphed in 2011, while Chris Lawless and Matt Gibson took the win 12 months ago.
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Burton and Stewart led the way throughout and were on course for a clean sweep of six Madison victories in as many days before two falls in Sunday’s final race threatened to scupper their bid for glory.
Stewart told Cycling Weekly: “Germain crashed early on in the race, but he got back up and we took a lap with one other team.
“But then I had a big get down – one rider swung up the track after a change and I was swinging down for one. We committed and the next thing I know my bike is in the stand!
“I ran up the track to get it – I didn’t think twice about it, as somebody had to get it back! They started saying something over the tannoy and I did wonder if I was going to get in trouble for it. Luckily they only gave me a warning.
“Overall, it was a good few days. We definitely grew in confidence as the days and victories went on.
“It’s an amazing event, it’s different to any other. It’s so busy in track centre it’s like a nightclub.”
The pair were looked after in Belgium by Germain’s father and former six-day racer Maurice.
And while the youngsters didn’t attract much attention from the local press, Maurice’s van – painted in the colours of his London-based De Ver Cycles shop – did.
Police sniffer dogs were pictured checking the vehicle, as part of the increased security at this year’s event following the Paris terrorist attacks.
Ghent fan favourite Iljo Keisse, alongside Dane Michael Morkov, took the victory in the elite six-day, 10 points ahead of Belgians Gijs Van Hoecke and Kenny De Ketele.