Interview: Yoeri Havik

One of the exciting new signings for 2017 for the team is Dutchman Yoeri Havik. The six day star may be a star name on the track but he’s also proved he can cut it on the road too and will be an exciting rider to watch in British events in 2017.

Track stars like Ed Clancy, Seb Mora, Albert Torres and so many others have shown how well they can take their track speed to the staple racing of domestic events, the Crit, and Yoeri explained how they have them in Holland as well but they are much smaller events.

Yoeri also pointed out that just because a crit is a short race doesn’t mean it’s the same as the doing races on the track. “The difference between the track and crits are the corners; the more corners you have, the more you have to accelerate out of them from a low speed where as on the track, we are used to racing at a high speed and that is about leg speed”.

“In a circuit race, it is more about torque/power than cadence. Sometimes people think an effort of an hour is hour but on the road it can be really different depending on the circuit and is certainly different to the track”.

So while Yoeri has made his name on the track, it’s on the road he has also tasted success too. A stage win in the Tour of Normandy, a tough French stage race, shows he can mix it in road racing as does his win in the ZLM Tour, a Dutch event held annually for under 23 riders and part of the UCI U23 Nations Cup so a hotly contested event.

The latter (ZLM) is a race won by Welshman Luke Rowe who went on to be signed by Sky and is now one of the top Classics riders. “At first, I thought I could be a good road rider, like Luke Rowe, in a big team but it didn’t work out like I wanted. After 2015, I was close to a pro contract but it didn’t happen and since last year, I focus on the track more.”

Yoeri however is a rider who likes winning; end of. “When I pin number on, I want to win whether it’s on the road or track” he explained.

He also admits to preferring races where the wind influences the way the event is raced. “The races with cross winds in Holland are chaos and like a Points race on the track. Accelerating out of every corner and having to focus for four hours. With no wind, races are an easy ride with a bunch sprint at the end but the cross winds I prefer because like a six day, you need to focus from the start and it’s certainly not boring”.

Six Days and then the Road Season
Prior to starting the road season in Britain, Yoeri will be competing in a rather demanding schedule of six day races. No less than four six day events with one travel day in between in January will see Yoeri doing his version of a Grand Tour but in circles on various tracks. He’s hoping to do well in all four before a short break in February and a final six day on the track in Mallorca where the prizes are potentially very rewarding.

His experience in the Six Days helps him and his partner on the track get in the mix for the victories as he did at Amsterdam a few years ago. This year in his home Six Day at Amsterdam, Yoeri and his partner Wim Stroetinga had their share of the victories from day 1 when they won a 40 lap Derny race and on night three, won the Madison chase taking a lap back on their rivals. Low and behold, they repeated the victory on night four in a 1-2 with Raleigh GAC duo Albert Torres and Seb Mora in second. And for a bit of fun, Yoeri and Wim also won the Longest Lap!

Yoeri’s insight into the racing at a six day is easy to see when chatting with him. The interview was done before the Amsterdam Six but already Yoeri knew who the favourites were. “This season, I have seen that Kenny de Ketele/ Moreno de Pauw are going very well. You know that Moreno is the fast guy and will come in with a lap, or lap and a half to go and Kenny has the bigger engine”.

Knowing this, Yoeri, depending on who he is riding with, would try and race with Kenny whilst a faster sprinter would be challenging Moreno. “It is important that you ride your own race though” says Yoeri.

The Six Day events are also changing with the Madison Group events slightly different in format to others such as Gent for example. The tracks too vary from the 166 metre ones to others that are 200 metres around and then Olympic length tracks of 250 metres.

“It is the different tracks that make the different six days different” says Yoeri. “Shorter style of tracks (166/200metres) lead to a different style of race to events on the bigger ones because you can use a smaller gear which is good for me. Other riders like Nikki Terpstra (Paris Roubaix winner) though have the brutal power for the long big tracks and long madison chases.”

Yoeri also stresses that it’s the Madison that is the key event each night. “In a 45 minute Madison, you can lose many laps and the race is gone. So it is important you are a good Madison rider and you need to be in good shape to race flat out for 45 mins or an hour!”

The more the conversation goes on, you can see how much Yoeri enjoys his winter ‘job’. “The Six Day are what I do best and what I love. I can earn money and in the Madison Group series, there is prize money too so it is important to do well.”

“It is easy to love riding the six day races because the crowds are close to us and you get so much back from riding hard. You have to race for four hours and can win points from the start as well as at the end. You get rewarded for the effort you put in and are lots of fun.”

Yoeri though does add that a season on the road is also important. “You need a big engine to go 45 minutes full gas and in seven six days, it is like riding seven stage races so is good for your shape. But these are only between October and January and you can’t lie on your back the rest of the year as you have to be good in October so you need to race in the summer”.

And that is what Yoeri will be doing for Raleigh GAC in 2017 and we wish him lots of luck both in the six day races to come in the winter and the road racing to follow …

Thank you Yoeri!

Yoeri relaxes at Derby at a photo session during the track league

Yoeri opening the ‘taps’ during an effort on the Derby boards

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