Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys have won the 80th edition of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent. The Belgian top duo beat Jasper De Buyst/Roger Kluge and Michael Morkov/Lasse Norman Hansen. In his wildest dreams, De Ketele, who was riding his last Six Days of Ghent, could not have imagined a more fitting farewell.
Even without a final victory, Sunday would have been a party for De Ketele. Midway through the final day, the 36-year-old from East Flanders had already been honoured extensively by his colleagues, who had formed a lane of honour for him. Team mate Robbe Ghys was already tearing up a little. 34-year-old Frenchman Morgan Kneisky, who will be hanging up his bike at the end of this season as well just like De Ketele, was also treated to a fitting honorary salute by his colleagues.
But of course the Kuipke also saw some serious racing on Sunday. After all, De Ketele and Ghys still had to make up 15 points to catch up with Danish leaders Morkov and Norman Hansen on the closing day. Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst were also still very much in the running. They were in the same lap, even though they were about sixty points behind.
Iljo Keisse and Mark Cavendish had to make up two laps to stay in the running for victory. In the first test of the day, the points race, Keisse immediately started the attack, but his little plan failed. Nevertheless, Keisse managed to set the Kuipke alight by winning the derny race later in the afternoon.
However, the Kuipke fell silent when Keisse’s team mate Mark Cavendish and Lasse Norman Hansen fell in the closing Madison. An attendant had offered a cup of water, which had been spilt and had created a wet spot on the track and was the root cause for both top riders slipping and falling. Cavendish was taken to hospital for radiological studies, but not before giving the audience a reassuring wave from the stretcher.
Norman Hansen was able to stay in the race but was not able to give it his all anymore, which meant the fight for final victory was between De Ketele/Ghys and De Buyst/Kluge. Lotto’s ‘Captains of Cycling’ had to pull out all the stops to grab a much-needed lap, but De Ketele and Ghys did not crack. Earlier in the afternoon, they had already proven that they were very strong by winning the first derny event, the elimination and track lap.
De Ketele and Ghys gained a total of 376 points over the six days. Kluge and De Buyst finished in the same lap and came second with 307 points. Third place went to Danes Michael Morkov and Lasse Norman Hansen who unfortunately finished six laps behind with 368 points. Iljo Keisse rode the conclusion of the Madison on his own and still managed to come out in fourth place, 7 laps behind the winners.
The Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent will celebrate its hundredth anniversary next year.