November 21, 2016 0 Comments
This year's Ghent Six Day will live long in the memory. Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish took overall victory, but only after stealing a decisive lap in the dying minutes of the final Madison chase. The tight and atmospheric Kuipke velodrome was packed to the rafters as Wiggins and Cavendish took a total of eleven laps on the field in the final hour of racing. In doing so they avenged their defeat in the Six Day London at the hands of Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw, who finished second in Ghent.
Photographer Dan Monaghan was at the Kuipke: take a look at a gallery of his images below. You can see more from Dan at his website cadenceimages.com, and in the forthcoming Conquista issue 13.
When the racing was over, it was Wiggins who was the centre of media attention, as he once again prevaricated over his plans for retirement. If Ghent is to be his final appearance, he could hardly have picked a better place: quite apart from the fact that he was born in the city, and watched his father and six-day specialist Gary Wiggins compete here, he also won the overall Ghent Six Day in 2003, riding with the Belgian-Australian Matthew Gilmore. And of course Wiggins has enjoyed a triumphant 2016, taking gold in the team pursuit in what will be - surely - his final Olympics.
If Cavendish was overshadowed by Wiggins in the post-event press conference, the same cannot be said for his overall efforts in 2016. It is some measure of the cycling world's expectations that Cav's silver medals in the Olympic omnium event and the UCI Road World Championships count as disappointments. Apart from winning the overall in Ghent and the Madison at the UCI Track World Championships, also with Wiggins, he also took four stage wins in the Tour de France, taking his total to 30 - second only to Eddy Merckx on the all-time list - and wearing the yellow jersey for the first time after winning stage 1 into Omaha Beach.
To judge by the crowds in Ghent and London one might think that track cycling was booming. But all may not be as rosy as it seems. The early qualifying rounds of the UK's Revolution Series for 2016-17 have played out in front of many empty seats. The first round of the series proper, this year entitled the Revolution Champions League and scheduled to take place in Paris on 18-19 November, was cancelled due to "logistical issues". Tickets had been heavily discounted in the days leading up to cancellation. So - what gives?
To learn more about the tumultuous present and uncertain future of track cycling, check out our huge feature Inside Track from Conquista issue 11 - available here. And for a unique insight into the career of one of the greats of six-day racing, see our interview with Tony Doyle MBE in Conquista issue 12 - available from our website here, and from retail stockists listed here.
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