Keisse favourite for 67th Gent Six

Robert Bartko (Ger) and Iljo Keisse (Bel)

Robert Bartko (Ger) and Iljo Keisse (Bel) (Image credit: Birke Ulrich)

Iljo Keisse will start as the hot favourite for the 67th Gent Six Day, which starts tonight in his home town. The 24 year-old has already won the Amsterdam Six Day with German partner Robert Bartko. Keisse and Bartko will face stiff competition from a star studded field that includes the Dutch pairing of Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, as well as the British pair of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.

"The season so far has been going really well," Keisse told Sportwereld. "The win in Amsterdam was a surprise. We were actually only hoping to come into a bit of form in Munich with a view to the Gent six. Dortmund was with a sixth place good riding with the young Eric Mohs. In Munich we only missed the podium thanks to a flat tyre.

"We will be in top condition for Gent," he added. "Bartko is stronger than last year. Myself, I feel a lot fresher than 12 months ago too. I finished off the road season a bit easier because at the end of last season I felt too tired in Hasselt."

Despite being favourites to take out the title, the Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen road rider isn't underestimating the threat posed by his rivals. "I am expecting the most competition to come from Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, but we can't underestimate Robert Slippen and Danny Stam either," he said. "The biggest question mark is going to be Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Especially Cavendish, he is still young and has had a tough road season behind him."

Last year's Gent Six Day came to a tragic end when an accident claimed the life of young Spanish star Isaac Gálvez. Organisers announced last week the event would open with a commemorative lap to remember the cyclist, and Keisse added that the incident will be fresh in the minds of those present at this year's event.

"For nearly everyone the meet will bring back memories after the tragic accident last year with Isaac Gálvez," Keisse said. "That will make for a nervous start, but don't think for a second that the riders will start any slower. Everyone will stand still for a moment and remember what happened 12 months ago, but after that it will be back to racing."

In order to be one step of his competition, Keisse decided to train on Monday as though it was the first day of the event. "I want to have the first day of the six day behind me," he said. "The others will come good on Tuesday, and that's where I can get my advantage."

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