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Six Day London: Stewart wins 1878 Cup

Mark Stewart (100%ME) took the top opening-day prize Sunday at the Six Day London on the hardwood track of the Lee Valley Velopark.

The 1878 Cup is a five-race omnium to open the riders' legs for the rest of the week. The riders competed in the 20km scratch race, elimination race, 500m long lap, 500m flying lap and a 30km points race that covered 120 laps.

Stewart started the action with second-place finish to Lasse Norman Hansen in the scratch race. Etixx-QuickStep's Niki Terpstra was third. Stewart hit the podium again with a win in the 500m long lap, then followed it with another win in the 500m flying lap.

Terpstra won the points race, but Stewart held his ground to take the inaugural 1878 Cup and set the tone for the coming week.The 20-year-old Scotsman had another reason to celebrate as well.

"It was my Mum's birthday yesterday, so it's a birthday present for her," Stewart said in a report on the race website. "I don’t see her that often because we live and train in Manchester away from our families.

"To win the 1878 Cup is really nice for my Mum, it's a really nice surprise for her, I'm sure she'll love it," he said. "I didn't expect to win at all, I've never done a Six Day before so I didn't come in with any expectations but it's been a lot of fun.

Day 1 also saw the sprinters engaged in racing, with Kazunari Watanabe (Japan) and Eric Balzer (Germany) winning their semi-final's to contest the final. Balzer led his Japanese rival at the start of the final lap and held on to take the victory, expressing his pleasure at doing so after dismounting from his bike.

"I'm so happy to have won because it was a real fight against some brilliant guys," said Balzer. "The event is brilliant to have it here in London is great especially with the crowd and such a great atmosphere."

Watanabe wasn't down for long though as he took out the keirin victory ahead of Great Britain's Matthew Rotherham.

"The keirin is the event I wanted to win because it originated in Japan, so I am really happy with that performance," Watanabe said.

The U23 racing started with the 40km Madison, won by French duo Philemon Marcel-Millet and Joseph Berlin Semo, who started by grabbing five early points and maintaing their advantage to finish as the overnight leaders.

"It was pretty much as I expected, the track is big and there are lots of good riders here. I hope we can maintain our form," Marcel-Millet said. "The teams behind us are very strong, so we will see what happens."

The racing continues Monday with seven more six-day events, including the 20km Madison, two 40-lap Derny races, a team elimination race, two 500m Madison time trials and the final Madison.

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