By Bjorn Haake in Gent
The organisers of the Zesdaagse in Gent, Rob Discart and Patrick Sercu, expressed satisfaction with the racing and the spectators of the week-long event. Discart, responsible for the overall organisation of the Gent Six Days, drew a positive summary. "We as the organisers can look back at five days of great racing." He was extremely happy with the atmosphere in het Kuipke, the old Gent track arena. "It was made possible by the [local] riders, headed by Iljo Keisse. But I think the participation of Erik Zabel also helped."
Good news for the organisers was a well-behaved crowd. "We didn't have problems with drunks, like sometimes in the past. The atmosphere was very festive, to which the racing and the music contributed."
There was definitely not a lack of people, with ticket sales going well. The Gent track seats 7,000. "We sold between 41,000 and 42,000 tickets over the week," Discart said. He admitted that not all of those sales went to general public. "We had about 1,400 VIPs every day, but that still leaves room for the general public."
The health department stopped by three times to check if regulations were followed and Discart was happy about the visits. "There were no abnormalities, which shows what kind of discipline we had."
The sporting side of things
Sercu, responsible for the sporting side, was very happy with the six days. "I don't understand some of the problems other events are having. In Germany they think more about other things than the sports aspect [the Stuttgart Six Days were cancelled, other German races are struggling - ed.]"
In Gent both spectators and racers had a good time. "The atmosphere was great here and that is partially due to the local racers. Most prominently Iljo Keisse, of course, but also Kenny de Ketele and Tim Mertens," Sercu said.
He added that Keisse, with German partner Robert Bartko, continued their form from Munich. There was one sour note for him. "I think Stam and Schep did not live up to expectations."
Another rider he praised was Erik Zabel, who is ending his career with the Six Days in Berlin. "You don't have to say much about him – a great athlete, full of enthusiasm and he had a strong partner with Lampater.
"The only one who didn't progress was [Ingmar] Depoortere. De Neef is a little older; Dimitri de Fauw gave all he could. Those people deserve a contract."
Sercu also praised some of the younger riders, from whom he expected a lot of fun within a few years.
Even though the event wasn't finished at the time Sercu drew the balance, he was already thinking about next year. "It would be nice for next year to put together some high level teams. I am thinking about Wiggins, [Alex] Rasmussen, Mørkøv, Kluge and others. Of course, they were all in Munich and Keisse/Bartko won anyway. Both are top right now and of course were extremely motivated."
Sercu was realistic about the difficulty of signing all the strong riders for one event."It was an Olympic year and a hard year for the track riders. They need some rest, too. It is tough to get all the top guys, like Mørkøv, Rasmussen, Kluge. You just can't pay to have all the top guys."