With less than a week to the start of Hammer Stavanger, we caught up with Team Sunweb’s sports director Arthur van Dongen to talk about how the team selects its riders for a Hammer Series event.
What is the biggest difference between selecting riders for a traditional race and for a Hammer race?
We always make sure that we are bringing a good team for the Hammer Series. As a team, we really like these races and they are very important for the future of cycling.
When selecting the roster, the most important thing is to have a good mix of riders for each discipline. If you look at our team for Stavanger, you will see it’s a very strong lineup as we take these races very seriously.
What do you think will be the best discipline for the team in Stavanger?
Well, we have a strong group of riders for the Hammer Sprint but also for the Hammer Chase, I would say, with big engines like Walscheid, Arndt and Kragh Andersen who has done the TTT for us at the World Championships in the past.
How about tactics? How are Hammer races different in terms of setting up the team for each race?
In the Hammer Sprint for example, it’s important that we are not only focused on our main sprinter. We also need to be in the good breakaways in order to take points. It’s not just about focusing on the double points sprints with Walscheid but also to have guys like Kragh Andersen, who is fast as well, to make it in to the right breakaways.
Given that the Hammer races are short and so intense, is it even possible to change tactics during the race?
No, not really. In the pre-race meeting, of course, you can discuss different scenarios but ultimately, it’s the riders who need to see and feel what is happening during the race and then act on that.
What is the most important thing for the riders to remember when they start the race?
That Hammer is not an individual race. It’s all about the team. We have a guy like Arndt who has done these races in the past and he will be able to pass his experience on to the new guys in the team. He will be an important asset for us.
Who do you see as Team Sunweb’s biggest rivals for the Hammer Series title this year?
Normally, it will be Deceuninck - Quick-Step and Mitchelton-SCOTT. They always bring very strong and experienced teams to the Hammer races and they are big enough to have good teams at multiple races at the same time.
You can watch Team Sunweb and the rest of the Hammer teams go all-out in their fight for glory at Hammer Stavanger, May 24-26. For more information about the event, click here.