British cyclist wins his mum the perfect birthday present on first day of Six Day London at Olympic Velodrome

Brit Mark Stewart insisted lifting the 1878 Cup on the first evening of Six Day London was the perfect birthday present for his mother.

Sunday’s action started well for Stewart in the scratch race as he finished second with Lasse-Norman Hansen the man taking victory after the Dane broke away from the peloton to steal an early lap.

With 16 laps to go both Netherlands’ Niki Terpstra and Stewart earned a lap but Hansen picked up another and held his lead to the end – Stewart crossing for second and Terpstra third.

In the second race of the session there was another strong showing from Terpstra but again he was beaten to top spot as Denmark’s Michael Morkov pipped the Dutchman in a sprint to the line.

The third race – the long lap – saw Britain’s first winner of the competition with Stewart posting the fastest time to put himself in the title hunt heading into the final two events.

And the Scot established himself as the man to beat in the 500m time trial as he once again sprinted to victory in what was an electric atmosphere in the Lee Valley VeloPark.

That meant it was just the points race to go and, despite victory for Terpstra, Stewart held on to pole position and lifted the Cup.

“It was my mum’s birthday yesterday so it’s a birthday present for her,” said Stewart.

“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.

“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.

“The atmosphere was absolutely breathtaking and the arena is fantastic. It feels like home and the crowd really does get you round when you’re in the red and you’re focused. All the noise you hear really keeps you going.”

In the first of the sprinting finals it was a showdown between Japan’s Kazunari Watanabe and Germany’s Eric Balzer after they came through their respective semi-finals.

Balzer led at the start of the final lap and he managed to hold off the challenge of his Japanese rival to take the crown.

“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 did have a chance for revenge in the keirin however as he showed great strength to steal victory from under the nose of Briton Matthew Rotherham.

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

It was the under-23s that got things going in the afternoon with the 40km Madison, which saw 13 teams of two do battle over 160 laps.

And in the end it was French duo Philemon Marcel-Millet and Joseph Berlin Semon, who took the overnight lead after they came out strong, picking up five early points and never looking back.

“It was a good start and we carried that through to the rest of the race which was really pleasing for us,” said Marcel-Millet.

“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.

“The teams behind us are very strong so we will see what happens.”

Six Day London is at Lee Valley VeloPark between 18-23 Oct – tickets now on sale at 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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