Thanks to its impressive lighting displays, a Ministry of Sound DJ providing the evening’s soundtrack and – most importantly – some exciting racing on the track, those competing in London’s first six-day meeting since 1980 have declared the capital’s new version a hit.
“I think it’s a nice modern event,” said One Pro Cycling’s Marc Hester of Six-Day London, which is taking place at the Lee Valley Velodrome in Stratford.
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“They have brought it up-to-date and it looks good. In my opinion six-days need modern things – the show part – combined with things from the traditional six-days like the classic racing.”
Sunday’s opening session featured the 1878 Cup – a five-round omnium – in recognition of the year London hosted the first six-day.
The results won’t count towards the main six-day event, and riders raced as individuals and in their trade team kits, which made the likes of Etixx-Quick Step’s Niki Terpstra and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Mørkøv more recognisable to the crowd. British Cycling Senior Academy rider (and six-day debutante) Mark Stewart took the win.
“The atmosphere was absolutely breathtaking and the arena is fantastic,” said Stewart. “It feels like home and the crowd really does get you round when you’re in the red and you’re focused. All the noise you hear really keeps you going.”
Cannondale-Garmin’s Lasse Norman Hansen, a gold medal winner on the same velodrome at London 2012, added: “I like the individual racing, it’s nice to have alongside events like the Madison.
“It’s a really nice track – it’s not a problem that it’s on a 250-metre track unlike some six-days, as I think the sport is moving to a fixed distance for track racing.
“The atmosphere is good here, and I’m sure it will be great at the end of the week.
“As you see, with a few changes to the six-day format, I think this type of event has a good future.
“For example, the earlier finishes are good. I don’t think that racing until 2am as some six-days do is good for spectators or the riders.
“Physically it’s very demanding, and sometimes the racing can be affected. Here in London, we’ll be more awake during the racing, it will give more excitement.”