Gallery: double vision at Berlin Six-Day

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As the 2019 Berlin six-day approaches later this month, we look back to 2017 when native photographer Timm Kölln captured the 106th edition of the world’s longest running Six

Photographs: Timm Kölln
Timm Kölln Berlin Six Day 2017

An iconic image of Muhammad Ali provided the inspiration for Timm Kölln’s photo essay of his hometown race – the Berlin Six-Day, the longest-running event of its type in the world.


Neil Leifer positioned himself in the roof of the Houston Astrodome in 1966 to capture one of the greatest photographs of The Greatest, the champion wheeling away from the stricken Cleveland Williams, flat on his back on the canvas, with Ali’s arms aloft as the referee counted out the unfortunate challenger.


Read: Never meet your heroes? I partnered mine in a six-day


Kölln took to the rafters of the famous Velodrom for a bird’s eye view of the riders circling the track – almost merging with the boards, creating a pure graphic experience via double exposure images from above.


The Madison, that potentially devilishly confusing event that has been central to the Six-Day race since its inception, becomes a blur of high-speed, multi-coloured jerseys, handslings in progress, riders intricately negotiating the ever-changing, weaving snake of cyclists.


Back at track level, sprinters, proud as oversized peacocks, tense their spectacular quadriceps, showboating for the crowd with long-lasting track stands before the furious dash to the line.


And stehers – ‘stayers’ in English – all but extinct in Six-Day racing, thrash round on their bizarre-looking specially adapted machines, tucked behind equally bizarre-looking powerful motorbikes, standing proud on their roaring BMWs to afford maximum shelter to their charges.


Gallery: Six Day London by Benedict Campbell


The effect of Kölln’s double exposure photos captures the essence of a Six: music, lights, action, speed – an alcohol-fuelled riot of bike racing so perfectly suited to Berlin and its party atmosphere.


But also the confusion. Who is winning? What lap are we on? What are they sprinting for? Hang on, why is a man on a peculiar BMW tearing round the banking? Why is my head spinning?


Relax, have another beer, go with the flow. That’s Six-Day racing.



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