By Jack Miller
Former world madison champion Kenny De Ketele and compatriot Moreno De Pauw dominated proceedings at the Lee Valley VeloPark in front of another boisterous British crowd, winning the opening 20km madison, before De Ketele stormed to another win in his deny heat after an early break.
Etixx-Quick Step’s Iljo Keisse – a Six-Day winner in Grenoble, Ghent, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Zurich and Stuttgart – had shown why he is one of the best in the world with a win in the other derny heat, and looked to punish fellow pace-setting Belgians as they crashed out of the team elimination race early on.
Keisse and Gijs Van Hoecke finished third in that race, as Denmark’s Alex Rasmussen ousted the British duo of Chris Latham and Ollie Wood on the very final lap.
But De Ketele and De Pauw came storming back at the end of the evening, coming second in the 500m madison time trial before conquering the final chase, gaining a lap on most of the field in the process.
“It’s not over yet, we still have four days to go,” said De Pauw. “The first day is always a bit searching.
“There are some good riders who will get better as the week goes on. We’ll have to defend first place, we’ll defend everything, you’ll see and hopefully we’ll end up on top.
De Ketele added: “I think we should be thinking about our fellow countrymen Iljo Keisse and Gijs Van Hoecke.
“They’re really going well and I think they are one of the teams that will get better. Other teams like the Spanish are really strong, as well as Yoeri Havik and Niki Terpstra.
“It’s far from over yet. As leaders you always have to do extra work and you’ll always get attacked so it’s not easy.”
The best bits of day one of the London Six Day
Keisse and Van Hoecke sit second overall, 14 points off the pace, while Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen and Pim Ligthart are third.
Elsewhere there were also fireworks in the sprinters competition as Britain’s Matthew Rotherham was ousted out of top spot overall by seasoned campaigner Denis Dmitriev.
First, Rotherham claimed the 200m flying time trial with a time of 10.400s, pipping Russian powerhouse Dmitriev, who had set the early pace.
And Rotherham made it two wins from two as he won his sprint semi-final, while Dmitriev joined him in the final.
Germany’s Eric Balzer held off compatriot Sascha Hübner in a hugely entertaining race to take third, before the in-form Rotherham again edged out rival Dmitriev with the pair touching shoulders almost the entire race.
But ‘The Legs’ seemed to be spent in the keirin, as he exited in the heats and had to watch as Dmitriev showed his class to win and take the overall classification lead.
Six Day London is at Lee Valley VeloPark between 18-23 Oct – tickets now on sale at www.sixday.com. Come and see the world’s best track cyclists in action and be part of an electric party atmosphere at London’s Olympic Velodrome.