Ghent Sixday opens

All eyes at the 2005 Ghent Sixday will be on the pairing of Matt Gilmore and Iljo Keisse, riding their first Ghent Six together. Last year, Gilmore went into the final night in the lead partnered with Robert Bartko and had to withdraw from the race due to illness. Based in Ghent, and holding Belgian nationality, Gilmore has been the local favourite since Etienne de Wilde retired from the six day circuit. Keisse is also a local Ghent rider, and has huge support from the Belgian crowd, so pairing the two of them together is a guaranteed crowd-puller.

Keisse looks very young, but is actually an experienced six-day rider now. He notched up his first six-day win in this year's Grenoble Six, partnered by the experienced Gilmore.

Top six-day pairing Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart will also be keen for another win in Ghent. And German Robert Bartko, who looked good partnering Gilmore last year, is keen for a win with experienced Aussie six-day man Scott McGrory. The flying Dutchmen, Rob Slippens and Danny Stam, will also want to win again after their victory in Ghent last year. And for an outsider bet, keep an eye on the amazingly fast Franco Marvulli, riding this year's sixday races with his new partner Marco Villa, who is himself a multiple sixday winner.

There is always a strong British contingent in the crowd at Ghent, and the British interest will focus on World Madison champions Rob Hayles and Mark Cavendish. This is their third sixday race together, and Cav looks to be getting used to the routine now. It is widely acknowledged by fans and riders alike that the first year of riding sixdays is a period of learning - and suffering!

For full results and photos of the Ghent Sixday, please click here.

Courtesy of Nick Rosenthal

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