Feature: Major Victory for Yoeri Havik (Raleigh GAC)

Yoeri Havik (Raleigh GAC) not only achieved a childhood dream in winning the Berlin Six but kept it in the family, after his own uncle was the last Dutchman to win in Berlin.

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Feature: Major Victory for Yoeri Havik (Raleigh GAC)

In winning the Berlin Six Day this week, Raleigh-GAC’s new signing for 2017 – Yoeri Havik – not only achieved a childhood dream but kept it in the family, after his own uncle was the last Dutchman to win in Berlin.

Photo: http://sixday.com/

Havik and his partner for the race, Wim Stroetinga, led from Day 2, reigning supreme with three Madison wins in the week, and a series of consistently strong rides to finish as the highest points scorers too.

The duo were riding their third back-to-back Six Day event in Berlin, with Copenhagen making it four for the month when that begins today. Havik admitted that the win in Berlin is a highpoint in his career.

“When you look at the list of honours, they are the big stars of (track) cycling history. To win the 106th edition and to be on that list is pretty special to me. Also, the last Dutch winners in 2006 were Danny Stam and Robert Slippens and that is special to me because Danny is my uncle and he was the reason I started cycling.”

“I always looked up to him and he taught me so much like a big brother. So for me, Berlin is a big win”.

The memorable victory nearly did not happen after an error in gearing on Day 1. “The very first day and the first big chase” was the toughest day of the six day for Yoeri. “I came from Bremen on the small track (166 metres) and small gear (53 x 16) to the start in Berlin racing 52 x 15 (slightly bigger) but on the long track it was still way too small”.

“I was drowning in the chase! After I changed to 53 x 15 the next day, that appeared to be perfect for me. We finished day one in eighth then the second day, with the bigger gear, we were flying around, took the lead and we never gave it away.

“It was so good, I didn’t expect that so soon after Bremen and that first day in Berlin.”

Photo: http://sixday.com/

The Six Day is a two man effort and Yoeri thinks that Stroetinga’s impressive sprints to take Madison wins on Days 2 and 3 put fear into their opponents, making sure they knew he was the fastest man in the field, and that eventually led to the field riding for second place.

“Wim was in really great form, so it was easy to switch back to him” adds Yoeri. One of their main rivals, winners at the London Six Day, Belgians Kenny de Ketele and Moreno de Pauw, praised Yoeri and Wim for their victory.

“De Ketele explained “I think we can be happy and proud of our week,” he said. “It’s been a hard week, some really tough racing, and in the end, the Dutch guys were better. We tried several times but they always closed the gap, they deserved the win and we enjoyed racing them and the best team won.”

We asked Yoeri what moment was the best one for him during the Berlin Six Day? He replied “The big chase on day 3. We took a lap on our rivals and Wim won the sprint for the second consecutive day in a very impressive way. From that moment, we knew it was possible to win.”

The track at Berlin was 250 metres long, the same length as Olympic sized tracks in Manchester, London and many others around the world but bigger than other six day tracks like Gent and Bremen. Because the track in Berlin is bigger, the gearing, as Yoeri explained above, has to be bigger again. He says that he was using 53 x 13 for the Derny (little motorbike) paced races and 53 x 15 for the madison ‘chases’.

The Six Day race comprises many events. The main one is the ‘chase’ or Madison over 45 minutes or longer where riders aim to take laps and win points. There are however many other shorter races from fun events like the longest lap to the Derny events where the riders are paced by a small motorbike at very fast speeds indeed. We asked Yoeri what his favourite event is?

“The team elimination simply because I think that’s great fun and great to watch as well!”
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After three six day events, one after the other in January, covering distances as much as 120 kilometres a day, Yoeri says “I’m surprising myself with how I feel. I expected to be way more exhausted and the legs much worse. It’s actually pretty ok. Maybe also because you never feel tired when you win LoL! It’s a bit strange as I expected to be already totally exhausted after Bremen, but the third we won, so actually it’s not too bad – I don’t really feel like I’ve done three straight Six Days already,” he added.

“They will be long days here in Copenhagen, so we could suddenly feel way more tired!”

The Six Day events are very demanding in different ways. Not just a lot of riding full gas but also over a long period during a day. How do the riders keep their energy levels up? “Eating rice, bananas, sports bars and drink a water/isotonic drink with not too much sugar” explains Yoeri.

Another facet of the men’s six day is that the race is made up of two man teams and at each event, the combinations can change. For Berlin, Yoeri rode with Wim Stroetinga and he says it’s really important to have the right partner to have aspirations of winning. “You can’t win madisons with one good rider”. Yoeri adds “and I now race Copenhagen and the final one in Mallorca 17th March with Wim”.

After the win in Berlin however, both Yoeri and Wim are calm ahead of Copenhagen and Yoeri admits to a weight now being off their shoulders. “The pressure is off for us, because we won in Berlin, so that’s in our pocket,” he said. “We are going there and we have to ride chases of one hour. One hour is one hour so we better do our best and we will see what the result is – if we are good, then maybe we will be on the podium again. And if we are not as good and we end up fourth or fifth then we take it how it comes, no pressure anymore.”

Thank you Yoeri and good luck to him and Wim in the next two six day events. I am sure all the sports fans are looking forward to seeing Yoeri race here in the UK later in the season.

The startlist for Copenhagen starting today is here:



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