The Hammer Series, a ground-breaking three-day pro cycling series today officially announces its return to cycling’s heartland, Limburg in the Netherlands on 1-3 June 2018 and the addition of a second race in the series, Hammer Stavanger, on 25-27 May.
German UCI WorldTour team BORA-hansgrohe will make their Hammer Series debut and join the challenge to find the best team of 2018.
Following an exciting inaugural event in 2017, watched by more than three million cycling fans on social media channels alone, the Hammer Series kicks off the 2018 season with two back-to-back races.
Each race sees three days of intense competition, providing close-up thrills for cycling fans in an innovative team-v-team format designed for digital and broadcast viewing.
Unlike traditional stage-based races in which individual riders take to the podium, the Hammer Series pits teams of five riders against each other over extremely testing courses to determine the best team.
In 2017 Hammer Limburg was won by Team Sky, who clinched the event in a nail-biting Hammer Chase, battling elbow-to-elbow with home favourites Team Sunweb. Despite starting 32 seconds behind the British team, Team Sunweb caught Team Sky with 3.5km to go, providing a fierce finale.
Team Sky’s combined coherence on both the Hammer Climb and Hammer Sprint meant they were in pole position for the final Hammer Chase, fielding more or less a full team time trial squad.
Servais Knaven, Team Sky Directeur Sportif recalls: “Last year’s Hammer Series was a great event and I’m sure it’s only going to get better in 2018. I really enjoyed my view of the racing from the team car in Limburg – it was so exciting, and it was full gas from the gun every day.
“The format is great and from the look of the spectators at the start and finish it certainly went down well. I think young fans will love this type of racing and that is so important for the sport.”
It wasn’t just those inside the team car enjoying the race, as Tao Geoghegan-Hart, the young Team Sky Rider who was part of the winning squad said: “It was a real pleasure to race in the inaugural Hammer Series last year and obviously it was made all the more special because we won.
“The racing was intense – with groups coming and going all the time. The format definitely suits aggressive racing. It’s great that so many cycling fans around the world were able to watch it live. I know a lot of people who don’t often watch racing tuned in because it was live on Facebook.
“I hope I get to race in one of the events this year and look forward to trying to retain our title we won in 2017”.
BORA-hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk explained why his team will race Hammer Limburg this year: “I watched the inaugural Hammer race last year with big interest to see how it turns out. Now it is time for us to take part in this series to get also some insights, then we can maybe also contribute to the development of the series in the future.”
Tom Dumoulin, Team Sunweb rider and current Giro d’Italia and world time trial champion reflects on last year’s race. “We had a great first Hammer race in Limburg last year. We were there with a strong team and nearly won.
“This year we will be there with a strong line-up once again, to try to go for a good result. The Hammer Series is an ideal platform for modern cycling and very exciting for new generations of fans. I really like that all riders contribute to the team result and perform as one unit”
Joining the series this year is Hammer Stavanger, a race set in the city and municipality of the same name in Norway and the third-largest urban area in the country. As the energy capital of Europe, 50 years as the headquarters for oil and gas activities in Norway have shaped Stavanger into a truly international region. In fact, Hammer Stavanger will be supported by Veidekke and Repsol, two of the world’s largest energy and civil engineering companies, with operations based in Norway.
Sven Erik Bystrøm, Norwegian rider for UAE Team Emirates explains “I’m really looking forward to Hammer Stavanger because it adds something new to my race calendar. It also takes place in my home city, and it gives me extra motivation to ride in front of my family and friends along the road. I’m also happy to show my team mates what a beautiful place the Stavanger region is”
Hammer Stavanger will follow the Tour des Fjords 2018, which takes place May 22-24 – guaranteeing some of the highest-calibre of racing this year in Scandinavia.
Course, venue and rider information for Hammer Stavanger and Hammer Limburg will be announced later along with details about where to watch the events in person and online around the world.
About Hammer Series
Based on an exciting new team race format, Hammer Series is a revolutionary international professional road cycling series created to find the world’s best team. The Hammer Series is designed to maximise excitement for fans and viewers. The format makes the riding challenge comprehensive, delivering a definitive verdict on the best team. The action is fast, exciting, accessible for both die-hard fans and those less familiar with bike racing. The scoring system ensures the team performance is rewarded, not the individual. Alongside the professional teams races, Hammer Series events will feature a festival of cycling including family mass participation activities, men’s and women’s pro-am challenges, a fan village, cycling expo and entertainment. Infront and Velon have worked together on this innovative concept in consultation with teams and riders to create an exciting fan-based, team-focused event. There has been input from key players in cycle sport – riders, sporting directors, team managers, broadcasters and race organisers – along with insight and innovation from major sports events organisers beyond cycling.
Velon works closely with WorldTour and Pro-Continental Teams, race organisers, broadcasters, online sport destinations and the international cycling media to increase engagement with the world’s biggest and best-known professional cycling races. They use live rider data system to show how much effort riders are expending as they tackle some of the world’s toughest courses. Power output, heart rate, speed and cadence are delivered to live television coverage and online to give a glimpse of just what it takes to compete and triumph at the top level of the sport. They put onboard cameras on the handlebars and under the saddles of the riders’ racing machines to let you see what they see as they slog it up mountains, rocket down descents and sprint for glory.
Infront, a Wanda Sports company, is a leading sports marketing company managing a comprehensive portfolio of top properties. Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Infront covers all aspects of successful sporting events – including distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production, event operation and digital solutions – and has won a reputation for its high standards of delivery. As the number one player in winter sport and with a leading role in football, summer sports and corporate and personal fitness, Infront enjoys long-lasting partnerships with over 180 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies. Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Infront has a team of more than 900 experienced staff working from over 35 offices across more than 15 countries, delivering 4,100 event days of top class sport around the world every year. In November 2015, Infront was integrated into Wanda Sports Group, part of the Chinese conglomerate the Dalian Wanda Group.
About Wanda Sports Group
Wanda Sports Group is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape. Led by President & Vice Chairman Philippe Blatter, Wanda Sports incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.