From Tuesday 20th till Sunday 25th November there will again be fireworks in “Het Kuipke” in Ghent, because then it’s time for the 72nd edition of the Six Days of Ghent. Ten Belgians will attend, one of them is our Tosh Van der Sande, who won the Six Days U23 in 2008 together with Stijn Steels. Just as last year Tosh is forming a duo with the German Leif Lampater. Then they finished on the fourth place, this time they hope to be on the podium.
Such a Six Days is something special. The riders are only released in the arena in the evening. This asks for a special preparation, says Tosh Van der Sande: “During those six days you have breakfast about ten or eleven o’clock, afterwards you go and have a rest for a while. We leave for the track in the late afternoon, where we get a massage. Then we have a ride and about six o’clock we have a bite to eat. That is followed by the team presentation and then the race can begin. Between the different events we get a massage and we have to keep eating, because that’s important: rest well, eat well and race. When it’s finished, about two o’clock in the night, we get something to eat again, but we don’t get a massage anymore. You are in bed by about three. You can’t fall asleep immediately, because you have just raced and your body is still full with adrenaline. You try to sleep, but that isn’t always easy. In the last days before the Six Days begin you better get used to that rhythm, so go to bed late and get up a bit later. The heavy trainings are over, now it’s riding a lot on the rolls and make a lot of rotations.”
As said Tosh is again forming a couple with Leif Lampater and he is very enthusiastic about their collaboration. In 2011 they had to be satisfied with place four, this year they want to get on the podium. “I don’t get to see him again before Tuesday, so that will be a year since we have seen each-other. Leif is a great guy. He isn’t a heavily built rider, he’s a bit of the same type as I am. And that’s a good thing, because when you are with two similar riders, that’s easier when taking over. The time trial numbers are our weakest point. We are average, we lose too many points. We have to gather our points in other numbers like the madison and the team elimination: the tougher events. Those were our strongest points last year. Leif has got a good technique and he’s always very motivated to gather points, also in the extra events, which is very important. The intention is to be on the podium, but there is a lot of competition this year. There are a lot of teams that can reach top three, a lot of them are Belgians. Let’s hope we don’t ride in each-other’s way.”
During the Six Days the first days are already tough, says Van der Sande: “The first three days are the toughest, because the riders want to get already a good classification. The final day is of course also tough, with the longest madison. Everyone tries to get his place. At that moment the classification is already formed, everybody is looking at one another and then it is difficult to move the classification, but last year Leif and I unfortunately fell from the second to the fourth place that final day. But that can happen, you have to watch out every day and you shouldn’t let them surprise you, especially in the madison.”
Last year Kenny De Ketele won together with Robert Bartko. The next week in “Het Kuipke” is expected to bring a battle between the duos Keiise-O’Shea and De Ketele-Van Hoecke. Van der Sande agrees, although he says there can always be a surprise: “There won’t be a lot to do against Iljo Keisse. With Glenn O’Shea he has got a very fast partner. The Australian is world champion Omnium, that says enough. I won’t say they will win fluently, because there will be a lot of competition by a number of teams. But together with the world champions in the madison, Gijs Van Hoecke and Kenny De Ketele, they will battle for the victory. But you never know, we’ll try to avoid it.”
Van der Sande is looking forward to what he calls the most beautiful of all the Six Days that exist: “Ghent is the most important and most beautiful Six Days there is and of course it isn’t easy without competition, that’s why the first few days will be tough for me. I love to ride the team elimination because that is pretty technical and also tough. But when you are technically alright, you can save some more power, because otherwise you have to ride more in front. It is also very tactical and that suits me. The atmosphere in “Het Kuipke” is very fun. Since I have won the Six Days U23, I have the crowd behind me and that is pleasant. It increases every year. When you catch a round and they applaud and cheer that’s always nice. You get extra motivation because of it.”