Keisse and De Ketele win European Madison championship

Belgians Iljo Keisse and Kenny De Ketele took the European Madison title in Apeldoorn today, just hours after completing the Amsterdam Six Day the night before on separate teams.

Keisse wrapped up the overall victory in Amsterdam, where he helped Dutch rider Niki Terpstra to his first Six Day victory, after midnight on Saturday. The pair finished one lap up on fierce competition from Dutch pair Peter Schep and Wim Stroetinga. De Ketele's fortunes were much different - paired with young rider Barry Markus, he finished eight laps behind in seventh place in Amsterdam.

After a short night's sleep and a trip to nearby Apeldoorn, the two Belgians united to face the first qualifying heat at 10am, where they made it into the finals by taking second to Czech pair Vojtech Hacecky and Marek Mixa.

In a thrilling final, Keisse and De Ketele held a superior points tally heading into the last laps, but they were one lap shy of the lead and getting desperate.

The Austrian team of Andreas Graf and Andreas Müller (Austria) had already gained a lap with Vivien Brisse and Morgan Kneisky (France-A), then Claudio Imhof and Cyrille Thièry (Switzerland-B), and Martin Blaha and Milan Kadlec (Czech Republic-A) made it up onto the lead lap, with the Swiss holding a one point lead of the four teams.

With just seven laps to go, a Hail Mary attack by Keisse finally succeeded in bringing the team onto the lead lap with just seven laps to go, and with 19 points to the Swiss 12, it earned them Belgium's only gold medal of the meet.

The two victories for Keisse follow a nightmarish season in which his road career faltered under the weight of a split doping suspension that still prevents him from racing on home soil until January.

Keisse learned in May that he must serve out his ban for a 2008 doping positive he had contested, and was not allowed to race through August worldwide, and his ban inside Belgium would extend six months further.

The lack of racing ended his chances of another contract with Quickstep, and Keisse is currently without a team for the 2012 road season.

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