Niki Terpstra insists he and partner Yoeri Havik will do everything in their power to hunt down leaders Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw, after Thursday’s results set Six Day London up for a thrilling conclusion.
The two Belgian riders overtook their compatriots, Iljo Keisse and Gijs Van Hoecke, to lead at the Lee Valley VeloPark once more after they gained a lap late on in the final madison chase of the evening.
Terpstra and Havik of the Netherlands have been in touch all week and now sit third, but with 47 points between them and first place, they know they have work to do if they are to top the podium on Friday.
“It was a good night for the two of us and to be in the top three now is really good,” said Terpstra. “Maybe the first two Belgium teams will rock a little bit tomorrow, maybe not. Who knows!
“I hope so. I hope they look at each other and we can profit from it. There’s not much at all between us so anything is possible.
“It’s really nice to be a part of the first Six Day here in London for a few years. It’s really good, the crowds are really enthusiastic and they are really enjoying the nights. It would be a great achievement for us to win here.”
Havik added: “I think if you hear the crowd, Six Day really belongs here. It’s really popular in all of Europe, but track cycling is so popular in England and it’s great Six Day is back.”
Michael and Jesper Morkov made the big move of the day, stealing a lap on the field on their way to 20km madison triumph, with overall leaders Keisse and Hoecke close behind.
The British crowd was at its loudest yet, and they were treated to some fireworks from Ollie Wood who topped the flying 500m time-trial standings, despite the best efforts of Olympic omnium champion Lasse-Norman Hansen and De Ketele who were not far behind.
Sunday’s 1878 Cup champion Mark Stewart finished fourth in that race, but turned on the style in the team elimination to deliver a victory alongside Germain Burton.
After finishing second in that race Terpstra was determined to top the podium, and a brilliant finish in his derny race saw him win ahead of Michael Morkov and Van Hoecke – all three within a couple of feet of each other.
That win was vital, giving Terpstra and Havik enough points for a bonus lap and putting them second overall, before Burton emulated Stewart’s heroics and pipped De Pauw to win the second derny race in front of his father, former British champion Maurice.
But even though world madison champion Morgan Kneisky and Lucas Liss won the final chase, the last-gasp lap gained by De Ketele and De Pauw saw them finish the evening top of the pile.
Meanwhile in the women’s competition, Malgorzata Wojtyra picked up where she left off on Wednesday, winning the 7.5km scratch race ahead of Alzbeta Pavlendova to extend her lead overall, with Dani King in third.
And points race world champion Stephanie Pohl also stayed true to form, winning her favourite event for the second night running just ahead of Anita Stenberg of Norway – the two finishing level on points after the four sprints.
That put Stenberg into second place in the overall standings, but there was nothing she could do to catch Wojtyra who sealed another win in the elimination race.
Dame Sarah Storey was back again on Thursday as she bids to find her track legs ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio, and admitted she was enjoying the unique Six Day atmosphere.
She said: “It’s great to be a part of Six Day London, I can’t believe it’s been 35 years since we had the last one.
“It’s been great fun, loads of fast, hard racing right at the end of my season so it’s nice to end on a fun note – I can tell it’s the end of the season though as the wheels keep falling off when I don’t want them to.
“The building of the velodrome has transformed this area and you can see that if this becomes a permanent fixture here it will always draw people in to watch.
“You can see people’s faces and hear them when you’re trying to attack – even when the music is loud – so it really is fantastic racing.”
Elsewhere, Denis Dmitriev shook off yesterday’s tired performance to win the flying 200m time-trial ahead of Matt Rotherham and Eric Balzer, before Sascha Hubner triumphed in the keirin and crowd-pleasing American Nate Koch won the 500m handicap race.
But even though Balzer was beaten in the sprint final at the end of the evening by Kazunari Watanabe, Dmitriev held on to the overall standings lead by edging out Rotherham for third.
And British duo Matthew Walls and Matthew Draper claimed the Junior Talent Cup with another win in the 20km madison.
Despite being firmly in the lead going into the final day, the starlets went on the attack and took three of the four sprints to seal another win, and an overall triumph.
Six Day London is at Lee Valley VeloPark between 18-23 Oct – tickets now on sale at www.sixday.com. Come and see the world’s best track cyclists in action and be part of an electric party atmosphere at London’s Olympic Velodrome.
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