The Rotterdam Six kicks off on Thursday night with a line-up that includes all the big stars of Six-Days track racing. With the Team Belkin duo Theo Bos/Graeme Brown and Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Iljo Keisse/Niki Terpstra lining up against a stellar field, the Ahoy Arena promises to host a spectacular race with a grand finale next Tuesday.
Brown/Bos will make their debut, as a pair, in the Rotterdam Six. "A podium place is our ambition, but we really want to ride for the overall victory," Bos stated last month. They take on defending champions Keisse/Terpstra as well as, Belgium's biggest track talent, Jasper de Buyst who rides with former Madison world champion Kenny de Ketele.
Dutch Madison champions Jens Mouris (Orica-Greenedge) and Wim Stroetinga are also important podium contenders as are the number three of last year's edition: Yoeri Havik and Nick Stöpler who won gold and silver at the Dutch championships on the scratch.
Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo) kicks off his track season with Alex Rasmussen. The Danes are a very experienced pair, with eight Six-Days wins under their belt. "We definitely can win but we haven't raced together for a long time," Rasmussen said. "We know each other well, though."
Rasmussen, who left Garmin-Sharp for Danish continental team Riwal, looks forward to combining road and track racing. "With the road team [Garmin-Sharp] I wasn't allowed to take part in a lot of it but I always wanted to race Six-Days. I couldn't do it before but now I'm in a smaller Danish Continental team and they've allowed me to do pretty much what I wanted on the track. It has been perfect the way it worked out," Rasmussen told Sixdayracing.com.
The last of the seven WorldTour-riders taking part in Rotterdam is Team Belkin's Barry Markus. He teams up with former Rotterdam winner Leif Lampater. The German is one of the best Six-Days riders of his generation with seven titles on his palmares.
The line-up is completed with Six-Days legends Robert Bartko (with Marcel Kalz) and Franco Marvulli (with Tristan Marguet). Marvulli, winner of 33 Six-Days is to retire at the end of the season.
World Madison champion Vivien Brisse partners with Marc Hester. The Americans Guy East/Daniel Holloway, Dutch/South African pair Arno van der Zwet/Nolan Hoffmann and Dutch pairs Wesley Kreder/Michel Kreder, Jesper Asselman/Melvin Boskamp and Didier Caspers/Melvin van Zijl complete the line-up of 15 pairs.