Departing De Ketele Leads Top Competitors

The 80th edition of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent was presented officially at the Ghent City Hall. Four-time overall winner Kenny De Ketele will be riding his last Six Days of Ghent next week and will be honoured extensively. De Ketele and his team mate Robbe Ghys will face competition in the Kuipke from Iljo Keisse and Mark Cavendish and the reigning Olympic, World and European Champions of the Madison race. Bashir Abdi – European Record Holder in the Marathon, Olympic Bronze Medal Winner and proud man from Ghent – will sound the starting shot for the 80th Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent on Tuesday 16 November.


After a year of forced absence due to the corona pandemic, the Kuipke will be opening the floodgates again for a spectacle of cycling from the top shelf from Tuesday 16 until Sunday 21 November. “We are proud that we can offer a magnificent programme again for the 80th edition with plenty of absolute top track cyclists”, says Christophe Sercu and Christophe Impens, the organisers of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent. “Six ex-winners will be appearing at the start, including Iljo Keisse (7x), Kenny De Ketele (4x), Jasper De Buyst (2x), Michael Morkov (2x), Mark Cavendish (1x) and Robby Ghys (1x), together accounting for 17 victories in Ghent. In addition, we are extremely delighted that Bashir Abdi is coming to sound the starting shot on Tuesday evening.”


De Ketele/Ghys – who won bronze in the Madison at the World Championships in Roubaix last month– will be defending their Ghent title. Keisse forms a Belgian-British duo with Cavendish, and De Buyst will ride with German Roger Kluge. There are another seven Belgians featuring in the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent: Otto Vergaerde/Jules Hesters and Fabio Van den Bossche/Lindsay De Vylder are two pure Belgian duos. Gerben Thijssen is riding together with Italian Michele Scartezzini, Jonas Rickaert with Swiss rider Silvan Dillier and young Tuur Dens – who grabbed Silver in the scratch at the World Championships in Roubaix – with experienced Dane Marc Hester.

The Danes we are really looking forward to in Ghent are Michael Morkov and Lasse Norman Hansen. They are the reigning Olympic and World Champions in the Madison. The reigning European Champions in the Madison, Dutchmen Yoeri Havik and Jan-Willem van Schip, will also attend the Kuipke next week. Roy Pieters/Maikel Zijlaard is the second Dutch duo in the race and finally, there is the French-Danish combo of Morgan Kneisky/Matias Malmberg. The 34-year-old Kneisky is the multiple ex-World Champion in the Madison. On the final day, Kneisky and De Ketele – who will both be hanging up their bicycles in December – will be feted extensively.


The Kuipke will also see celebrations on Friday and Saturday. On Friday night, the Kuipke will be waving goodbye to Michel Vaarten. The 64-year-old Silver Olympic Medal winner in the 1,000m time trial of Montréal 1976 has not been active in his beloved derny for one and a half years due to ill health, however, he will be getting a much-deserved standing ovation at the Ghent Kuipke. Vaarten has not missed a single edition since 1974: first as a rider, later on as a coach and the last couple of years as pacemaker. The second edition of the Memorial Patrick Sercu, a team race in memory of the Olympic Champion in the 1,000m time trial of Tokyo 1964 and eleven-time winner and former competition leader of the Six Days of Ghent, will also take place on Friday night.

Saturday night, all attention will be focused on Jolien D’hoore. The leading lady of Belgian (track) cycling ended her professional cycling career last month after a heroic Paris-Roubaix. D’hoore will be honoured extensively in Ghent for her spectacular career – culminating in an Olympic Bronze Medal in the Omnium at the 2016 Rio Olympics. In 2011, the then 21-year-old rider from East Flanders provided the Kuipke with a scoop, because that is when she participated in the first Women’s race during the Six Days of Ghent.


These days, it is impossible to imagine the Six Days of Ghent without a women’s race. The Minerva Ladies Trophy on Saturday night is an omnium consisting of a scratch, a tempo race, elimination and a points race. Lotte Kopecky, the new flag bearer among the Belgian women and good for Gold in the points race at the recent World Championships in Roubaix and Silver in the omnium and elimination, will start as top favourite. Shari Bossuyt, Katrijn De Clercq, Marith Vanhove and Aaike Cools are the other compatriots who will be performing. Denmark’s Amalie Winther Olsen and The Netherlands’ Marit Raaijmakers, Yuli van der Molen, Daniek Hengeveld and Amy Pieters are the international riders who will be giving them a run for their money. The same women will also ride in a points race on Friday.

Another fixture on the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent programme is the AVS Cup for U23 riders. Gianluca Pollefliet/Noah Vandenbranden, Siebe Deweirdt/Brent Van Mulders, Jakov Beirlaen/Arthur Senrame, Yorick Slaets/Michiel l’Eau and Jasper Bertels/Inias Leten will be racing in this ‘Six Days of the future’ against their peers from Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

Another annual tradition is the inclusion of G-cycling in the programme of the Zesdaagse, in cooperation with Sport Vlaanderen and Parantee/Psylos. As was the case in previous editions, Belgium’s best Paralympians – Ewoud Vromant, Diederick Schelfhout, Niels Verschaeren and the women’s tandem with Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur – will now also give it their all at the Kuipke. On Wednesday night, the Belgians will be competing against international stars from Great Britain: Ben Watson, Finn Graham, Matt Robertson and Blaine Hunt.


All final winners of the 80th Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent will be presented with a gorgeous and exclusive trophy designed by Jan Desmarets. This 60-year-old sculptor from West Flanders, who lives in Zomergem, is also known for his large works of art that can be admired in public spaces in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.


The 80th edition of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent will take place from Tuesday 16 up to and including Sunday 21 November and is completely sold out with the exception of the very last few seats. The last seats are still on sale. There are still some VIP offers available for corporations and their employees or customers. All ticket holders will be asked to present a valid Covid Safe Ticket by the entrance to the Kuipke to gain entry to the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent.


Those who are unable to join us at the Kuipke, will be able to follow every day’s action live on TV from their comfy chair this year. Thanks to a new collaboration with Proximus, you will not have to miss any of the action via Proximus Pickx+ from Tuesday to Saturday. As is now the custom, you can watch the final of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent live on Sporza on één on Sunday.