Iljo Keisse was overcome with emotion after winning his fourth Gent Six Day race on Sunday. He had only a few weeks to prepare for the race after learning that his doping-related suspension had been lifted.
Keisse tested positive for Cathine and HCT after winning the race in 2008. The Belgian federation dismissed the charges, but the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) gave him a two-year suspension. A little more than two weeks ago the Belgian Court of Appeals set the ban aside, with a final decision due in April.
“I had very poor preparations for this six-day race,” Keisse told the Belga news agency. “When the news came that my suspension was lifted, there was enormous pressure on my shoulders, as I prepared for 'my' six-days. In addition, I was also sick, but fortunately I improved after the first day.”
Keisse and his Dutch partner Peter Schep took back the lead on the fifth night, and held off challengers Kenny De Ketele and Leif Lampater on Sunday to take the overall victory.
“On Sunday Peter Schep and I made sure that no one could get a lap on us. And we succeeded in that. Maybe it wasn't a pleasant finale, but we made sure we would get the final victory.”
After taking that final victory, Keisse said, “I fought really hard here. Having thousands of people chanting my name gives me an incredible feeling. That makes it worth doing.”
The 27-year-old had previously won the Gent Six-Day race in 2005, 2007 and 2008.