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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Six-day race in the velodrome: World class on the track, gaps in the stands

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At some point it was always the same image that became a classic at the start of the 110th six-day race on Friday in the Berlin Velodrom over the course of the evening: athletes on the track who raised their arms in the direction of the audience as if they wanted them say: “Be loud, we need you!”

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The world class that was promised in advance for the three days of racing could be seen on the track from the first second on Friday evening: 110 percent concentration, 110 percent gas. In terms of sport, the racers delivered, but next to the track there was a lack of spectators and atmosphere.

Because there wasn’t really a lot going on in the velodrome on Friday. The empty ranks at the beginning were almost frightening. In the course of the evening, the main grandstand was filled with cheerful faces. “We were very happy that the race can take place again after a two-year break,” said a spectator who has already attended many Sixdays in Berlin.

Now I have to look for a currywurst somewhere.

A visitor about the atmosphere in the velodrome.

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The new general conditions with races only on three instead of six days met with a lack of understanding not only from them. Especially among the loyal supporters of the six-day race, the disappointment this year is great in many ways. “In the years before Corona there was a significantly larger audience here. It’s a yawning emptiness here.” And another: “Back then, everything was much more extensive. Now I have to look for a currywurst somewhere.”

Another cycling fan, who is participating in the Velodrom for the fifth time this year, said, however, that it wasn’t “really full” in the years before Corona either. Even so, you had reason to be happy. The fact that something has finally been done with regard to equality between women’s and men’s races is progress.

In sport, women and men finally have equal rights

The large number of women on the track was strikingly new. For the first time, female riders are represented as extensively as the men in a six-day race. And they deserved the same support from outside on Friday evening.

But then again a man provided the mood highlight at the start. Robert Förstemann, the crowd favorite who started in the men’s sprint, encouraged the spectators from the first second to create a good atmosphere. In the end, however, his performance was not enough for a top sporting position.

In the women’s sprint final, there was the big duel of the world champions, in which Lea Sophie Friedrich was able to prevail against Emma Hinze. And the men came Yoeri Havik and Vincent Hoppezak came out of nowhere and were able to intercept local heroes Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt.

The organizers were satisfied with the many exciting races. “It was a great first day of great sport. Our expectations have been met, the work of the past few weeks and months has paid off,” said Sixdays Managing Director Valts Miltovics.

He will secretly hope that the positions in the races on Saturday and Sunday will be even better. Because the best thing is when the velodrome really trembles in the last few meters of a race. In this regard, at least on Friday, there was still room for improvement.

Source: Tagesspiegel

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