The European Six Day circuit picks up in Gent, Belgium, this week for the 68th edition of the Zesdaagse van Vlaanderen, and according to Sportwereld.be, tickets for three of the six nights have already sold out. This success is in sharp contrast with reports from recent Six Days in Germany, where flat ticket sales have led promoters to question their events' futures.
German cycling's woes are now spreading beyond road racing, as the traditional Six Day races are feeling the pinch. The Stuttgart race has been cancelled, and organisers are doubtful as to whether they will be able to stage the Munich Six Day race next November.
The decision to cancel the Hofbrau Sechstagerennen in Stuttgart was based on the current situation in professional cycling, according to Andreas Kroll, head of the organising committee. It was scheduled to be held January 15-20, 2009.
A major contributing factor was the positive Tour de France doping test for CERA from Stefan Schumacher, who lives in the Stuttgart area. "Professional cycling has an enormous image problem, which we can't do anything about," Kroll said.
The recent Munich Six Day race, held November 6-11, cost a total of about €1.5 million, and organiser Klaus Cyron is expecting to see a five-figure loss. The problem is the stagnating fan base. The race attracted just over 60,000 spectators, the same as last year, but far below the 65,000 organisers needed.
In Gent, last year's winners Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko will be back to defend that title, but other notables will be absent. 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.
Dortmund winners Erik Zabel and Leif Lampater should give Keisse and Bartko the strongest competition of the 12-team field. (SW)