Having taken out the Munich Six Day earlier this month, Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko will go into the Gent Six as favourites. Starting tonight in one of Belgium's iconic cycling cities, the 68th edition of the Zesdaagse van Gent will be the chance for Keisse to secure a home turf win.
"The six lives in Gent. People talk to me on the street and wish me lots of happiness," Keisse told Sporza.be. "It is the first time I've been called the favourite. Now, I feel like I've won already. [Robert] Bartko and I are looking forward to this edition."
Franco Marvulli, who normally pairs with Bruno Risi, will be absent due to an illness which forced him to drop out midway through the Dortmund Six Day earlier this month. Also absent will be Robert Slippens, teammate of Danny Stam. Stam will instead team up with fellow Dutchman Peter Schep, while Risi will pair with his countryman Alexander Aeschbach.
"We will most likely get tough competition from the duo of Zabel and Lampater," he said, while adding that the win in Munich was an important step in cementing themselves as a pairing to watch throughout the season. "That was a prestigious victory. Bartko and I showed that we are the strongest tandem of the moment."
Keisse explained the reasons for the duo's success thus far. "I have a good relationship with Bartko," he said. "He is a super champion in super form and we are extremely complementary; he is strong and I'm fast."
Start pairings for the Zesdaagse van Gent: Iljo Keiss / Robert Bartko, Bruno Risi / Alexander Aeschbach, Danny Stam / Peter Schep, Erik Zabel / Leif Lampater, Mark Hester / Luke Roberts, Angelo Ciccone / Fabio Masotti, Tim Mertens / Andreas Muller, Leon Van Bon / Pim Ligthart, Kenny De Ketele / Andreas Beikirch, Casper Jörgensen / J-E.Madsen, Dimitri De Fauw / Steven Deneef and Nicky Cocquyt / Ingmar Depoortere