Iljo Keisse ended his impressive (Six Days) career with a third place. The 39-year-old from Ghent was extensively feted on the final day of the Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent. Next Thursday will see the ultimate farewell party in ‘his’ Kuipke.
Team mate Jasper De Buyst and the other Six Days riders formed a guard of honour for their retiring colleague on Sunday afternoon. Iljo’s wife and two sons were also waiting for him. Just before, father Ronie had already been granted the opportunity to hand over the flowers to Iljo after he had won the Derny race to the delight of the crowd.
“This place is so special to me,” Keisse addressed the packed Kuipke. “Everything started here. 30 years ago I sat here behind the railing dreaming of becoming a track rider. It took a long time to get there.”
In 2002, Keisse made his debut in the Ghent Six Days. He finished 13th and last with South African Jean-Pierre Van Zyl. But after that, things picked up very quickly. In 2005, Keisse scored his first victory in Ghent. His seventh and final triumph came in 2018. The Kuipke has held him in high esteem all these years.
“The public has always given me so much,” said an emotional Keisse. “I have always tried my best to give a lot back. I want to thank you all.”
Another grand farewell party for the Emperor of the Kuipke ‘Merci Iljooo’ will follow on Thursday 24 November. Click here for more info (in Dutch) >>