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Stroetinga, Schep lead after bumpy kick-off at Rotterdam Six

Stroetinga and Schep take top spot on the boards as Rotterdam Six gets off to bumpy start for many

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ROTTERDAM (VN) — Wim Stroetinga and Peter Schep (Koga-Ubbink) took the lead after the first day of the Rotterdam Six on Thursday. The Dutch pair are the defending champions in Rotterdam and showed they mean business in defending their crown.

The first Madison race of the evening saw the duos of Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), world Champions Kenny de Ketele and Gijs van Hoecke, and six-day veteran Robert Bartko and Sylvain Dillier take a lap quite fast, but the attacks came fast and furious. By taking the final sprint the Omega Pharma duo of Keisse and Terpstra secured the win in the opening event.

The defining race of the evening was the long Madison of 45 minutes plus 10 laps. It turned out to be a battle between the experienced Keisse and Terpstra, the young Dutch pair Nick Stöpler and Yoeri Havik and the Schep-Stroetinga pair. The Omega Pharma riders were one point behind Stroetinga and Schep before the long Madison took off. Halfway into the race, all the main contenders for the overall win were in the same lap, but Keisse and Terpstra took matters into their own hands and lapped the field to gain a solo lead with 15 minutes to go. In a thrilling finale, the young Dutchmen Havik and Stöpler, Stroetinga and Schep, and the world Madison champions Kenny de Ketele and Gijs van Hoecke matched each other and took a lap, too.

The final sprint between Stroetinga, Keisse and Havik was won by Stroetinga, who crossed the line with a wheelie. With this win, the Koga riders lead after the first night in the Ahoy Arena.

“We are the defending champions so this is a good start,” Stroetinga said. “Peter and I work great together. It’s not the first time we team up. We know exactly how the other feels. If Peter takes over, I immediately feel how he’s doing. That is our strength, I am the fast man and Peter has the big engine.”

But the first night was not completely smooth on the boards for the leaders, with Stroetinga crashing in the time trial.

“I was too close to Peter’s wheel and just clipped him,” he said. “Some bandages and we are set to go again.”

After one night, the main contenders for the overall crown have begun to emerge.

“Terpstra and Keisse were looking really good,” Stroetinga said. “We have to wait and see because some pairs improve considerably at day two. I think Silvan Dillier is a real big talent. He partners with the very experienced Robert Bartko. They made a great impression on me tonight.”

Four pairs are within the same lap, including Nick Stöpler and Yoeri Havik.

“This was a very good first night,” Havik said. “Nick is far better than he ever was before so I am curious to see how this week turns out. We are an attacking pair, like to take matters into our own hands. That is the plan, be aggressive and take the laps on the others.”

It was not only Stroetinga who crashed on the first night. Midway through the very nervous first race, Garmin-Sharp’s Michel Kreder, the elder of the Kreder brothers, crashed with Michael Vingerling.

“Two riders were supposed to do a take-over, but came back into the track,” said Kreder. “I was stuck and had nowhere to go. My front wheel crashed with Vingerling’s rear wheel. My skin has some burns and my back is a bit sore, but I’ll continue and see how it goes.”

There was also bad luck for Terpstra, who had to change bikes four times during the Madison.

“First, my seatpost was giving trouble, then I changed to a bike with another gear,” Terpstra said. “Four bike changes in one Madison race which is especially sour for my partner Iljo, who had to ride an extra race tonight.”

Rotterdam is host to the best six-day pairs in the world, but also hosts a showdown for the world’s sprinting elite with Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Teun Mulder and current sprint world champion Grégory Baugé on the boards this week. Together they have 21 world titles under their belts. Hoy is the world record holder. Together with Jason Kenny, he won the team sprint and he soloed to victory in the Keirin on Thursday. It was, however, Kenny that took the lead after day 1 by winning the 200 meters and the individual sprint.