Final night in Bremen Six is marred by bad crash

Andreas Beikirch crashed heavily and broke his vertebra

Andreas Beikirch crashed heavily and broke his vertebra (Image credit: Bjorn Haake)

The Six Days in Bremen, Germany, ended with a bad crash in the final night and two riders were sent to hospital. It took half an hour for the race jury to decide to continue the race. The crash came one day after German rider Andreas Beikirch fell and broke a vertebra. The event was won by Erik Zabel and Leif Lampater.

With only 11 laps left, a crash sent Olaf Pollack to the hospital with a suspected broken collarbone. He was joined there by Danny Stam, who injured his hip. After a meeting between the race jury and team representatives, the decision was made to continue the race - otherwise, the whole race would have been forfeit.

Franco Marvulli, Pollack's partner, said that the rider favoured continuation of the race. "We owed it to the great public here in Bremen. And besides, the best riders won."

Those best riders were Erik Zabel and his partner Leif Lampater. The two were known in the race as "the flying cows", since they wore the cow-design Milram jersey. It was Zabel's penultimate race before retiring. "I know it sounds corny, but what do they always say? You should stop when things are good - and in Bremen they were always especially good."

There was another serious crash on Monday evening, when German Andreas Beikirch went down. He touched wheels with Bruno Risi and fell on his back. He tried to get back on his bike, but the race doctor sent him to the hospital instead. It turned out that he had broken a vertebra, knocking him out of the race. He was able to leave the hospital the next day, but will not be able to race for five to six weeks.

He and his partner Robert Bartko had been in the lead before the accident. "His health is more important. I hope that Andi is fit again as soon as possible." Bartko was able to continue riding with Alexander Aeschbach, whose partner Tristan Marguet had to drop out with bronchitis.(SW)

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