Keisse and Bartko claim Rotterdam six day

Keisse isn't faking

Keisse isn't faking (Image credit: Luc Claessen)

Iljo Keisse and Robert Bartko have won the Rotterdam six day with a brilliant last minute escape in the Madison finale. The night one leaders were challenged throughout the event by the Swiss team of Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi and Dutchman Danny Stam and his fill-in partner, Italian Marco Villa.

Going into the final night, the three teams were all on the lead lap, with Risi/Marvulli and Keisse/Bartko ahead on points. However, Stam and Villa were just a handful of points away from taking a bonus lap given for each 100 points.

The experienced and astute Villa nearly steered his team to victory, and at the start of the last event, the team was alone on the lead lap. All they had do was to keep the teams of Keisse/ Bartko and Risi/Marvulli from stealing any laps and they would get the win. This would prove to be very difficult indeed.

The two teams took turns attacking the leaders, but even the rivalry between Stam and Risi wasn't enough to keep the Swiss from helping the chase when Keisse and Bartko launched their moves. Laps were taken again and again, but each time, the three teams came out equal.

As the clock ticked down, and the officials started flipping the placards on the lap board, Franco Marvulli launched a 'Hail Mary' attack to try and steal the lap. Had it been successful, this would have put their team on the same lap as Stam/Villa, but far ahead on points to win the six day. But Stam and Villa poured themselves into the chase, holding the Swiss to half a lap until finally, Marvulli relented.

With the laps counting down, and Stam and Villa just minutes from victory, Bartko immediately countered the catch of Risi/Marvulli and just barely got a gap. When he was relieved by Keisse, a tired Danny Stam opened a small gap to the Belgian's wheel. Sensing this weakness, Keisse got out of the saddle and accelerated off the front, gaining a quick quarter lap which Bartko then extended.

Before the lap board was empty, Keisse and Bartko had taken the lap to get back onto the lead lap with Stam and Villa, and the final sprint, which Keisse easily won, was just icing on the cake for the man who had been deprived of glory after the horrific death of Galvez in Gent.

Behind these three teams, the brave partner of Isaac Galvez, Juan Llaneras, overcame his grief and regained his passion for racing. Partnered with the cheerful German, Andreas Beikirch, the team challenged for the lead, winning the night four Madison. But the pair ultimately lost laps to the leading three teams on points, and finished fourth.

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