The 103rd Berlin Six Day was one of firsts and lasts, as hometown rider Andreas Müller claimed his first ever Six Day on his home track, with partner Kenny De Ketele of Belgium also adding his first Berlin victory to his palmares.
The Six Day world waved goodbye to two riders in Berlin with the traditional ceremonial send-off, Swiss rider Franco Marvulli and veteran German racer Robert Bartko, who will close out his career in Copenhagen at age 38.
Bartko came to prominence dominating the Individual Pursuit at the 1999 World championships on this very Berlin track and then at the 2000 Olympic Games, where he also took gold in the Team Pursuit. Bartko racked up four world titles in the Individual Pursuit over his career in addition to his single Team Pursuit title. He joined Team Telekom after his Olympic successes and later moved onto Rabobank but he never quite hit the same heights on the road. He remained a track specialist since 2004, and has won 19 Six Day races out of 80 starts in the past decade.
The final three days at the Landsberger Allee Velodrom were packed, with standing room only available for the finale, and the riders did their best to put on a show for the public.
Leaders Leif Lampater and Belgian sensation Jasper De Buyst had been the strongest riders on the track, and they entered the final Madison with a healthy lead on points. But this was a Six-Days final chase where anything can happen when the pressure mounts.
Bartko came out like a man possessed and for half an hour he and local youngster Theo Reinhardt looked ready to cause an upset as the lead went back and forth. But with 25 laps remaining, needing to gain a full lap on Lampater/De Buyst due to a large points deficit, Kenny De Ketele and Andreas Müller went clear. They ploughed on and on, and on making the junction with just a handful of laps remaining. The strongest team in the field, Lampater and De Buyst, had no help with their chase and just couldn't pull out enough energy in the end to close the gap.
De Ketele and Müller won by gaining one lap over Lampater and De Buyst. Bartko and Reinhardt ended the overall in third place.
David Muntaner ended the race on the sidelines after a crash left him with a fractured jaw. The Spaniard will miss the Copenhagen Six Day.
1. De Ketele (Bel) – Muller (Ger) 250 points
2. Lampater (Ger) – De Buyst (Bel) 308 -1 lap
3. Bartko - Reinhardt (Ger) 236
4. Brisse (Fra) - Grasmann (Ger) 211 -2 laps
5. Havik (Ned) – V. Hacecky (Cz) 210
6. Marguet (Swi) – Beyer (Ger) 143 -11 laps
7. Bommel (Ger) – Thiele (Ger) 128
8. Barth (Ger) - Heslich (Ger) 72 -15 laps
9. Marvulli (Swi) – Roberts (Aus) 63 -18 laps
10. J. Morkov (Den) – Ackermann (Ger) 61
11. Thomel (Ger) – Schomber (Ger) 65 -19 laps
12. Wotschke (Ger) - Pirius (Ger) 100 -20 laps
13. East (USA) – Holloway (USA) 44 -24 laps
14. Blaha (Cz) – M. Hacecky (Cz) 27 -25 laps
15. Byrgesen – Christensen (Den) 10 -27 laps
DNF - Muntaner (Spa) – Torres (Spa)
The leading sprinter after six nights was Robert Forstemann who held off teamates Levy and Balzer. All the sprinters will have enjoyed the appreciation of the packed houses, and got in some good work before the World Championships start on the 26 February, in Colombia.
The winner of the Stehers competition was the Swiss rider Mario Birrer who dominated proceedings from Thursday to Tuesday. This event is a real crowd pleaser here in Berlin and following the demise of the Dortmund Six, and Boxing Day meeting, this has become one of the few indoor arenas to still host the big motors.