De Ketele primed for pole position in Gent

Back in Gent to contest the 69th edition of that city's Six Day, Kenny De Ketele says that he's wants to win the renowned event more than ever, although a combination of injury to his racing partner Robert Bartko, and a strong field, will make it tough.

Having partnered fellow Belgian Iljo Keisse in last year's edition of the event, De Ketele will compete with experienced German rider Bartko, although he said a recent fall may hinder the pair's chances. "Bartko is not in such good condition as last year," he told the Belga news agency.

"My companion recently fell and suffered injuries to the ribs and spine," continued De Ketele. "It's not ideal in these circumstances, riding around the technical track of the Kuipke. In addition, this year a very strong field will start. According to insiders, it's the best of recent years. I believe there are five or six teams who can claim the final victory. The competition will be fierce over the six days and nights," he explained.

De Ketele and Bartko finished the first night in fourth place, crucially not conceding a lap to the likes of Keisse and Roger Kluge, Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli or leaders Alex Rasmussen and Michael Morkov. "The points will be important. I expect war in every area," said De Ketele. "Last year I won a night's competition. Now my ambition is much higher. I want to win. After the first day there's already a process of elimination happening," he added.

And like all of the fans and riders present for Tuesday's opening night, De Ketele felt the loss of Dimitri De Fauw, an important member of the Belgian Six Day community, whose suicide earlier this month was remembered with a moment's silence before the start of racing.

"The start will be very emotional for me, especially when I remember the passing of my friend Dimitri De Fauw," said De Ketele before the start in the Kuipke.

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