Lindsay De Vylder and Robbe Ghys clinched the overall title at Gent Six Day on Sunday, using a win at Madison to seal the deal. The Belgian duo overcame a one lap deficit with Yoeri Havik (Netherlands) and Fabio van den Bossche (Belgium) from Saturday.
The home crowd was amply rewarded in the final event of the night, the men’s Madison. It was the last time veteran star Iljo Keisse (Belgium) would race on the track in a career spanning three decades. Along with his compatriot Jasper De Buyst, he finished third overall.
Throughout the week, the crowd at the Belgian city’s ‘t Kuipke velodrome cheered enthusiastically for Keisse and De Buyst, rooting for one final competition appearance by the 39-year-old Keisse. Earlier in the year he announced that he would retire and this Gent Six outing would be his 18th and last.
“I don’t know where to start… It all started here. He dreamed of racing the Six Days as a child, as he sat here and watched the riders from the stands,” Keisse said in a team statement after the event. “I came a long way and then in 2005 I won it for the first time. That was a dream come true, a truly magnificent moment.
“From then on, everything just got faster and faster and I enjoyed every moment of winning six-day races. I got a lot of amazing audiences and at the same time tried to give a lot back. It was an incredible journey and I am grateful for everything.”
One race decides six days at ‘t Kuipke
The six days came down to the final Madison to decide the podium. The top two teams were on the same lap and separated by five points, but two other teams were within reach: the Belgian pairing of Keisse and De Buyst and the Belgian/German duo of Jules Hesters and Torn Teutenberg.
De Vylder and Ghys held onto a lead they built earlier in the day and finished with 356 points in total. The second-place Belgian-Dutch duo, who began the multi-day event last Tuesday with a sprint finish win at Madison, scored 337 points. Keisse and De Buyst battled their way up to third overall.
Nicknamed ‘the King of ‘t Kuipke’, Keisse claimed 28 individual wins and seven overall titles in six-day races heading into the final round on Sunday. He not only won his last individual race, the Derny, but with his teammate De Buyst, he also lapsed the field at Madison, the velodrome erupting in applause. He also put the duo back on the lap count with the leaders to secure an overall podium spot.
“I’m proud to have been able to experience part of Iljo’s career and to have been able to hurt him myself, that’s also a small honor. I hope I get closer to his seven wins as well,” said Ghys. Sporza after winning their third consecutive title.
“I have a great calendar for 2023, starting tomorrow I will start with my new team (Alpecin-Deceuninck), I hope my bike [career] It will only get bigger in the future.”
It was the 100th anniversary of Gent Six Day, held at the 166.67m velodrome in the Belgian city. Day one ceremonies included two-time winner Bradley Wiggins firing the starting gun to kick off the event.