October 30, 2008
Did you know that there are Six Day events for women too? Yes, that's right, also with Madison racing!
I have just finished my first experience racing track events for six consecutive days with a partner and it was a real buzz. The women raced the event together (between events) with the professional men - the most famous competing here in Amsterdam were Paolo Bettini and Erik Zabel.
The crowds were amazing and the atmosphere was riveting. The music starts pumping and the crowds start cheering, the boards are trembling and then the heart starts racing and it doesn't matter how you perform - it's still a great feeling!
Some 13 women's teams were invited to this event to make up a total of 26 riders. There were three events per night for the women, but each rider only participated in one individual event - points race or elimination - plus the Madison each night.
My partner was Emma Trott from Great Britain and we were up against some of the best track riders in the world. They included Marianne Vos/Adrie Visser, Kirsten Wild/Vera Koedooder, Angela Henning/Elke Gebhart as well as some young guns like Amy Pieters and Lotte Van Hoek.
The women riders were restricted to a maximum gear of 52 x 16 (or 87.8). This restriction made my return to track racing a little tougher than expected, after a long season on the road pushing bigger gears. The younger riders certainly benefited from this ruling and dominated the racing.
It's fair to say that Emma and I were well off the pace! We could probably find a long list of excuses as to why but the bottom line is - we went to Amsterdam very under-prepared. I physically and mentally used the racing as training and preparation for the international track season that starts this Friday with the first round of the World Cup series in Manchester, England.
Lizzie Armitstead and Alex Greenfield from the Great Britain National Team won the Amsterdam Six Day; only being beaten in one out of six Madison events by Marianne Vos and Adrie Visser on the last evening. The youngsters are on great form leading into their home World Cup event this weekend.
Vera Koedooder and Kirsten Wild took second overall and the junior combination of Amy Pieters and Lotte Van Hoek took out an impressive third.
The Six Day event for women was run by Michael Zijlaard and Kim van Djik, who did a remarkable job running the event for its first time. The race format and structure was perfect and we're all looking forward to returning to the event in 2009!
It's now my job to get healthy before Friday's World Cup Points Race. I'm fighting of a nasty chest infection and head cold by spending all day in bed, there's not much more I can do!
I'm here in Manchester at the race hotel trying to stay relaxed. We'll see how it goes!