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“In the end it’s all about road racing for me,” de Buyst said. “I’m aiming for Rio in two years, so I can keep combining track with road racing this two years - that’s the deal I have with Lotto.”

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JASPER DE BUYST

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TEAM FLANDERS - BALOISE

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26.11.2014 @ 19:35 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Attending the exciting Six Days of Ghent last week, I was notoriously suspected to chase arguably the most decorated road cycling star of the 26-rider field, Mark Cavendish, after revealing my truly embarrassing disability to speak fluent Flemish or French. However, I didn’t let such suggestions to throw me off completely, having my very own idea about whom exactly we should follow. Because on CyclingQuotes we know who real winners are. Or at least we happen to get lucky sometimes..

Jasper de Buyst had agreed to meet with me in the riders’ zone at the ‘Kuipke velodrome on Saturday afternoon, just before the action of the penultimate Lotto Zesdaagse night kicked off. Kind enough to remember about our appointment, the young Belgian, who celebrated his 21 birthday last Monday, approached me while I was politely chatting with a staff and brought me inside.

 

 

“The most impressive track talent..”

 

No one else, but Iljo Keisse called de Buyst the most impressive track talent he had ever seen when we interviewed him last year in Zurich, so bringing up that opinion seemed to be a perfect way to break the ice with the young Belgian. Pleased after acknowledging an opinion of currently most decorated Six Day competitor, the Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise rider appeared to be actually completely uninterested in earning anyone’s appreciation. 

 

„I heard such comments before.. about me,” de Buyst admitted, without showing any signs of being too fond of himself. “It’s a nice feeling to hear such compliment from such rider. It’s very nice, but I’m not busy with such things ‘cause in the end I’m just doing the Six and I just want to win the Six, without being busy with compliments.”

 

 

“I’ve been here before, I handled that pressure before. It’s all quite the same.”

 

Despite being still 20 years old when this year’s edition of the Six Days of Ghent kicked off, de Buyst, pairing up with his fellow countryman Kenny De Ketele, had been considered stand out favorites to fight for a final victory in the event with the Omega Pharma – Quick Step duo of local hero Iljo Keisse and Mark Cavendish.

 

In such circumstances, one would expect the Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise rider to be under a lot of pressure, having won the previous edition of the track event and competing against the local crowd, which firmly stood behind the superstar Belgian-British combination.

 

De Buyst, however, turned down this kind of suggestions, explaining instead that his last year’s victory [with De Ketele] in fact had filled him with a lot of additional confidence and taught him how to handle tricky decisive days of rivalry. When I emphasized that his fellow countryman and biggest opponent, Keisse, seemed to almost crack under the pressure despite having won the Six Days of Ghent no less than five times, young Belgian only shrugged his arms and mildly smiled.  

 

“I’m used to pressure because of my win last year, so I’ve been here before, I handled that pressure before, so I know what’s coming for me now and what’s coming in the next days, especially in the last day with the pressure.”

 

“I know I can handle it because I handled it last year and I’m sure I can handle it in the end this year because it’s quite the same. It’s quite similar.”

 

Even though nearly everyone expected the final battle for a victory in Ghent to be fought between pairs clad in Baloise and Omega Pharma – Quick Step outfits, de Buyst pointed out to two other combinations remaining in contention before the final two nights: Lampater-Dillier and Rasmussen-Hester. The young Belgian proved to be completely right, as in the end all four teams started the decisive Madison race on Sunday at the same lap.

 

“Of course they still have a chance,” the 21-year old Belgian replied while asked whether all four pairs were still in contention before the final two nights of competition. “I keep an eye on them because I know Lampater very well, I rode with him last year here, I rode with him last year in Berlin. I know what he’s able to, I know what the Danes are able to and they will attack for sure ‘cause they won’t make it on points. They’re all very aggressive riders so they will attack for sure.”

 

 

“I believe in the end it’s important to entertain the crowd.”

 

Even though Ghent is arguably the most important of all Six Day races for competitors originating from Belgium, de Buyst and De Ketele had to face a somewhat strange situation of riding against the home crowd, wildly supporting their local hero, Keisse.

 

“Yes, but it’s because he lives maybe five kilometers away from here and he’s been riding here ten times while it’s only my third time.”

 

“So no, I don’t mind it.”

 

The 21-year old Belgian not only didn’t mind such situation, but nonetheless intensively interacted with the public gathered in the ‘Kuipke arena, maturely defining it as one of his responsibilities.

 

“I believe in the end it’s important to entertain the crowd ‘cause they paid 25 or 30 euro for a ticket to watch it so in the end they need to get something for that money. And in the end they don’t want to see just racing, they want to see some attractive things as well and that’s what I’m living for.”

 

 

“In the moment when people stop buying tickets, it’s all over.”

 

The Ghent Six event is known for it’s public and quite exceptional atmosphere, but nonetheless race organizers were forced to gave away tickets to fill the velodrome in the final nights this year. It itself speaks volumes about a current situation of exciting Six Day circuit, but de Buyst anyway shared his own view of the situation.

 

“I believe Ghent in the only Six Day which is still working. I mean organization, atmosphere and everything is good, while the other ones are heaving really hard times. They’re being reduced to four days or even stop being organized and that’s a shame, maybe.”

 

“That’s why we have to interact with a public as well, because in the moment when they stop buying tickets, it’s all over,” he once again explained his standing-out relation with a public.

 

Reflecting on an uneasy situation of Six Days races, among which many have been already reduced to four nights or even removed from the calendar, the young Belgian noted that a presence of road racing stars in likes of Cavendish might be a solution to generate public’s interest again. At the same time he pointed out, though, that the event held in Ghent wasn’t the best to test such hypothesis.

 

“Maybe yes. On the other hand, Ghent is always full, full house every year, so here it actually doesn’t matter. Here it’s always 7,000 people, so if he comes or if he doesn’t come, it’s always full house. For the other Six Days this might be a solution.”

 

The 21-year old Belgian agreed that the Six Days of Zurich, held from November 26, should bring more comprehensive answer to this kind of questions.

 

“Yeah, probably. I believe there we will have his effect and I hope he will have his effect, because last year there wasn’t a lot of public. It’s nice for everybody to have a lot of public, it’s better for us, it’s better for organizers, it’s just better for everyone.”

 

 

“Track is my main goal now, until Rio.”

 

Being one of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise riders, along with Tom Van Asbroeck or Zico Waeytens, who singed contracts with WorldTour outfits for the next season, de Buyst revealed that his two-year deal with Lotto-Soudal allows him to continue combining his track and road ambitions until after the Olympic Games in Rio.

 

“In the end it’s all about road racing for me, of course,” de Buyst admitted. “I’m now only 20-years old and I can combine it. I’m aiming for Rio in two years so I can combine, or keep combining track with road racing this two years – that’s the deal I have with Lotto.”

 

“Track is my main goal now, until Rio. Maybe after Rio I will keep doing one or two Six Days [a season], maybe.. Just because in the end I like it, it’s a cool thing to do. It’s my third time, it’s my third year and I really like it, but in the end my goals are on the road.“

 

Asked if those goals have anything to do with Flemish classics, he enigmatically replied: maybe

 

 

After celebrating his birthday with second straight victory in Lotto Zesdaagse, de Buyst travelled to Switzerland where he and De Ketele will once again compete against well known combinations of Keisse-Cavendish, Lampater-Dillier and Rasmussen-Hester.

 

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