It may have been the first Six Day on these shores for 35 years, but the climax of Six Day London did not disappoint as Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw claimed overall victory by a matter of inches.
After an incredible Friday of racing, the Belgian duo were neck and neck with Chris Latham and Ollie Wood going into the final bend, after the Brits had led going into the final chase.
But despite the best efforts of Latham as well as Iljo Keisse who was challenging, and the deafening roar of the London crowd, De Ketele held on to claim a breathtaking Six Day London victory.
“I am so happy,” said De Pauw. “I am so proud of us as before the Six Day London if you would of said that we would win it, I would have called you crazy, but we did it.
“When we were here for the Olympics in London, the atmosphere of the Six Day was almost the same – I thought the roof was going off it was amazing.”
De Ketele added: “When you are British and leading like Chris and Ollie were it is never easy, and we have had that experience in Six Day and we knew it was going to be hard for them.
“We profited from that, but those young boys did a really good job.
“Moreno and I are best friends, we are always together on the road, we do not mind racing more Six Days together and after January I think there will not be one Six Day we will not do together.”
Iljo Keisse and Gijs Van Hoecke laid down an early marker with a comfortable 20km madison win, but De Pauw and De Ketele were not far behind.
Latham then won the first long lap of Six Day London ahead of Glen O’Shea of Australia, with Wood not far behind in third to make it a big points haul for team seven.
De Ketele then made his experience count to pip Germain Burton in the derny final, with Niki Terpstra and Keisse just behind – all the big guns hitting top gear at the right time to fight back.
But Latham and Wood were not to be silenced, and sensational back-to-back victories in the team elimination and the flying 500m time-trial saw them earn enough points for an extra lap.
That shot them to the top of the leaderboard with only the final chase remaining – and lifted the lid off the velodrome with a sell-out crowd roaring the pairing forward.
But after another race that swung backwards and forwards, De Ketele’s final flourish saw him pop the champagne alongside De Pauw.
Elsewhere in the sprinters’ race, Denis Dmitriev held off the challenge of Brit Matt Rotherham to claim the overall title.
Rotherham looked like a man on a mission to finish top of the pile, and he got off to the perfect start by winning the flying 200m TT with rival Denis Dmitriev down in fifth spot.
But the two found themselves up against each other in a mammoth semi-final, and Dmitriev wrestled back the overall standings lead by beating the Bolton rider and then conquering Germany’s Eric Balzer in the final.
And even though Rotherham snuck ahead of popular American rider Nate Koch in the final keirin race of Six Day London, it was not enough to overhaul the Russian powerhouse.
Dmitriev said: “I was really excited to perform on this track as we had a world championship here, so I like to race on this track and I have thoroughly enjoyed this competition.
“It has given me a lot of confidence after winning the sprint, I feel a little bit tired but I feel good.
“The atmosphere here in London is so positive. It was a nice fight against really good guys and I hope I can come back here in Six Days again as I want to do my best to make the fans happy.”
Meanwhile in the women’s omnium, sat in second place overnight Anita Stenberg made a perfect start in her bid to haul her way to the top of the leaderboard, with a win in the opening 10km points race.
But overall leader Malgorzata Wojtyra still had an imposing lead after finishing second, and kept her foot on the gas in a rapid elimination race to finish second once more behind world points race champion Stefanie Pohl.
And despite a heroic effort from Dame Sarah Storey to make a massive solo break in the scratch race, she was reigned in and it was Norway’s Stenberg again who took a victory ahead of Pohl.
Wojtyra held her lead through all three races to emerge as the women’s Six Day champion, and could not contain her delight.
“I am really happy to of came here to London I have done some six days before but I am so happy to be back at the London Velodrome,” she said.
“The crowd has been amazing and I was getting goosebumps every time they chanted.
“I didn’t win any of the races today, but I was so pleased with the results as it was enough to see me stay at the top. Six days of racing is quite hard for everybody, but I stayed focused and came away with the win which is amazing.”
Six Day London took place at Lee Valley VeloPark – www.sixday.com. Packed crowds came and watched the world’s best track cyclists in action and to be part of an electric party atmosphere at London’s Olympic Velodrome.