By Gregor Brown
"The crash did not seem that bad," Italian Marco Villa said of the incident that lead to the death of fellow six day cyclist, Isaac Gálvez. The 37 year-old Italian, who has claimed 23 wins in 135 six day events, was obviously shell-shocked when recalling the incident to La Gazzetta dello Sport, but he noted that track racing is typically safe.
"In Gent they have raced on this track for 45 years and there has never been such a serious incident," continued Villa, twice world champion in the Madison. "To race on the track is not dangerous. Between us there are rules that we all respect: you stay in Indian file, no passing on the inside, before changing you look, in the sprint everyone holds their line... Then, we all know each other very well. In short, a road sprint is surely much more risky. Here, there were a series of incredible coincidences."
In the top-level of track racing there has not been a tragedy since 1956, when Stan Ockers, 1955 road world champion, crashed in Antwerp. There have been many more incidents during road races, the latest being Fabio Casartelli in the 1995 Tour de France and Andrei Kivilev in the 2003 Paris-Nice.