For Dutch rider Peter Schep, riding the Amsterdam Six-Day isn't just a fun way to end a busy season, but serious business in itself, and he could be forgiven for being a little nervous on the start line. Schep makes his living from riding the six-day events, and is also aiming to ride in Beijing in 2008 for his fourth Olympic Games appearance. And every opportunity to make a living and train, including this one in Amsterdam, must be taken.
In previous years Schep has focused on the team pursuit and the points race. At the world championships in March, he won silver in the teams pursuit, which was an improvement on the Netherlands team's fifth place at the 2004 Olympics, where Schep also took seventh in the points race. "I know it's possible to make further progress in my racing," said Schep. "I don't want to go to Beijing just to compete in four Olympic Games, I want to go there to win a medal."
But Beijing is still three years away and for 28-year-old Schep, who these days lives together with Dutch judo representative Edith Bosch, there's the reality of making a living. "Riding six-day meetings has to become my profession. That sounds negative, but it's the reality of the situation." said Schep. Schep says that making a living from six-day racing is not always easy, as contracts to ride each meet aren't always guaranteed, although this season according to organisers he'll be riding six six-day events, including Amsterdam and Gent.
In the meantime Schep also has to prepare for the world cup competitions that begin shortly and the world championships, to be held next April in Bordeaux. "The six-day season finishes at the end of February, beginning of March. You then have a month to specifically prepare for worlds. That preparation has to be good, too." At the Amsterdam six-day he's been partnered with Australian rider Scott McGrory, and after the first day's competition they lie in fifth place - much like the riders of previous generations, however, Schep's hoping that he and McGrory can perform consistently over the remaining days to make sure he can continue to make his living from riding on the track.