Crashes and a small audience at the Munich Six Days

Bartko to continue, but the race may not have a future

The Munich Six Days got off to a bad start on Thursday night, with smaller than expected crowds in the stands to see a crash-marred event. Three riders, including defending champion Robert Bartko, crashed badly enough to leave the race, with one later having to withdraw, while another rider had to withdraw due to illness.

The Danish duo of Michael Mørkøv and Alex Rasmussen took the lead after day one. "We don't want to die defending the lead and we would actually prefer to pass it on. The focal point is to keep up with our opponents and then we'll try and take the necessary points on Tuesday", Mørkøv said.

Only 20 minutes into the evening, defending champion Robert Bartko crashed heavily, along with Sebastian Siedler and Colby Pearce. All three were able to leave the track under their own power. A hospital visit showed that Bartko suffered only bruised ribs, and both he and Siedler are expected to start again Friday night. Pearce was not so lucky and had to withdraw due to a broken collarbone. In addition, Belgian rider Tim Mertens had to leave the race with circulation problems.

There were only 5,100 in attendance at the Munich Olympia Hall, down from 7,200 on the first night last year. "That is of course disappointing," said organiser Klaus Cyron. The race management had earlier indicated that if the audience did not increase over the previous year, future races might not be held.

"Every product has its life cycle. Perhaps this event has reached its end," Cyron noted philosophically.

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