Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) returns to race the Ghent Six Day this week for the first time since winning in 2016 with Bradley Wiggins.
Cavendish will pair with the “king” of the Ghent Six Day, Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). The duo placed second in 2014.
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“It’s really good, it’s always special to come here to Kuipke [Velodrome], Ghent, for me it’s the Tour de France of track cycling,” Cavendish told Sporza. “It’s even more special riding here with the king.
“The track is special, when you are a kid, you dream of riding here. I rode the UIV cup, I’d plead afterwards to watch the pros. It’s not easy at all [to race here]. It’s an achievement in cycling, for sure.”
Cavendish comes off a couple of seasons held up by the Epstein-Barr Virus. The Six Day races fit perfectly into his schedule going towards 2020.
He last raced on the road in Paris-Tours, October 13, and last month, he rode the London Six Day.
“I have good form, I think. I’m happy were I am. I’ve been training for this. I’ve been in Mallorca, training on the road and on the track in the afternoon,” he continued.
“Riding a 166-metre track is different, that’s why I come to Belgium early to train as much as possible to be ready for the race.
“You have to be professional, it’s always the same, even when I’m in the best form. I don’t think I’m alone, the first two nights, the mental fatigue and stress get you more tired than the actual legs, just trying to process all the information coming quickly. A lap is nine seconds here. That’s a lot of things happening on the track.”
Keisse won the six day in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2018. For Cav, the 2019 edition marks an end of the season and run with Team Dimension Data. He will switch to team Bahrain-McLaren in 2020.
“It just like it. I always try to do the track. If I had really hard road year, I need a break after, but with being sick and things… I didn’t do the Tour de France for instance, so I don’t really need the break and it’s better to race than to train,” said Cavendish.
“And the opportunity to ride in Ghent, you don’t let that opportunity to pass. To race in Ghent with Iljo, it’s something special. If it’s something you can do, you do.”