By Graham Healy

The photo above appeared in recent days on Twitter showing a cyclist riding along the advertising hoardings at a velodrome, but nobody seemed sure of who was in the photo.

It’s actually a Danish cyclist from the forties and fifties named Otto Olsen. Olsen first started taking part in six-day races in 1948, and was often paired up with fellow Dane Max Jørgensen.

Olsen had previously trained as a locksmith and in 1944, began to race on the road. However, he started to take part in more and more track races and would eventually move away from the road.

In 1952, he finished in third place with Marcel Bareth in the Copenhagen six-day as well as winning the Danish 10km championship. That third place would turn out to be his best result in a six-day.

The following year, Olsen was amongst the competitors who lined up at the St. Etienne six-day. On one of the evenings, just two spectators paid to see the riders in action. One of the other cyclists – Emile Carrara – asked the two fans, how much they paid for the tickets, and then he offered them double if they went back home.

The supporters accepted his offer, and with no spectators present, the riders spent the evening relaxing with red wine. The organisers later found out what had happened and Carrara got a ban whilst Olsen escaped prosecution.

Olsen achieved a few decent results in six-day races, but never got the win. However, despite his lack of results, he was a draw for race organisers due to his skills on the bike. Shown below is Olsen in action at Aarhus where he would ride up on the barriers.


Olsen was also known for his style on the bike, which was a contrast to his partner Jørgensen. Fans used to call them “Rokke and Roll” due to Jørgensen’s energetic rocking style, compared to the more elegant rolling style of Olsen.

Photo: Piet Kessels
Photo: Piet Kessels

Following on from his retirement, Olsen would later go on to manage the Danish national team with Bjarne Riis amongst the cyclists he coached.



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