In anticipation of the opening event of the six-day season, the Amsterdam Six, De Telegraaf has reported that one of the circuits's most successful duos – Danny Stam and Robert Slippens – will be reunited in competition.
In August 2006 Slippens broke ten ribs, crushed his collarbone and perforated his lung in a heavy fall. His rehabilitation took more than a year and even after his comeback Slippens hadn't returned to his previous level. The Dutch daily is calling this six-day season 'the winter of truth' for the pair.
Stam and Slippens have experienced the rapid highs and lows of the sport. In 2003 the Dutch pair was amongst the best on the six-day circuit and in the Amsterdam Six that year the pair won the first of their career six-day wins. That was followed up by victories in Bremen, Gent, Rotterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen before Slippens' terrible accident.
During a summer training camp in Italy the pair came to terms with what had happened since Slippens' fall. "In the car, we told each other the truth," explained Slippens. "After that fall it was very difficult for me mentally. I had doubts whether I was physically able to perform over the course of a long winter. Danny was really against me stopping, saying that I shouldn't give up, and the we must agree to turn things around. That was also the time for me to really have a go at getting back to full strength."
"I also know that Danny has not had it easy. It's also his bread. He has to look after a family and if you're no longer a top team, you just earn a lot less money," added Slippens.
"It's not always easy to be friends when you have a business relationship," said Stam. "You don't want to hurt each other. Yet you know what's best [for each other] and you are just speak honestly. We have done that. I have also questioned whether it would work between Robert and me, especially after Rotterdam this year. You wonder whether both of us have the high level we had two years ago.
"But you can't just throw away what we have built up over ten years. Something special grew in those years, therefore we'll try racing together again this winter. Then we'll evaluate things; it will come down to us actually winning another six-day, otherwise we haven't achieved the required level."
The Amsterdam season opener will feature Stam and Slippens, in addition to Paolo Bettini, Olympic champions Joan Llaneras and Jason Kenny, plus perennial sprint favourite Theo Bos.
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