"I've got some big targets for Hammer Series"

Cameron Meyer will captain Mitchelton-SCOTT at Hammer Stavanger, 24-26 May as the Australian team aim to defend the title they won in 2018. We ask him about his aims for Hammer Series, his season so far, and how he deals with the pain of an intense effort on the bike:

Are you ready to defend Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Hammer Series title?

I’ve got some big targets in the Hammer Series this season. Being a captain of the team, that’s something new this season, and I’m pretty excited about it. The team have given me a bit of a target with those events. We’ll have some of the younger riders coming to race, so I’ll be trying to put some good results down at Hammer, which we won overall last year, and we want to really target again.

Hammer is short and intense. You’ve got to be on the ball from the start of the race, there’s a lot of team tactics that go into it, there’s a lot of point-scoring, that’s how you win the event. It makes for some pretty fast racing.

Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Hammer Chase performance last season, was particularly memorable..

That’s probably one of the best team time trials I have ever been a part of. It was a really good day for us, we were really smooth, everything just seemed to work and click between our group. We had a fantastic day and it was great to finish off and win Hammer Stavanger last year.

Champagne for Mitchelton-SCOTT on the podium at Hammer Stavanger in 2018 (Getty Images)

Champagne for Mitchelton-SCOTT on the podium at Hammer Stavanger in 2018 (Getty Images)

How’s your season been so far?

Everything’s been going well: the start of my season was quite busy with the Australian calendar, then I switched over to the track, and competed at the World Championships in Poland. So I’ve been going in my European road season for about six weeks now, I had the Tour of Romandie a week and a bit ago, which went really well. 

I’m building towards a busy block now with the Hammer Stavanger, and I’ll also do Hammer Limburg, with the Tour of Norway and the Tour of Slovenia around that time as well. So it’s quite a busy period coming up in the next five-six weeks.

Did you enjoy the track racing in Poland?

Poland’s good - that’s where I won my first world championship, back in 2009, so that track [Prusków] holds some special memories for me. To go back there and compete was pretty cool. I didn’t get quite the result I wanted this year, but it was good World Championships for Australia, and being a part of that was good. It’s all gearing up on the track towards Tokyo next year for the Olympic Games. 

Does your tactical awareness as a track rider help you in road cycling?

I think you do take strategic awareness from the track across to the road. When things are getting chaotic, when you have to really slow things down and think about specific tactics, in the heat of the moment: That’s what we do best on the track. You see a lot of good road professionals who have come from the track really have strong skills in that area. It’s something that I’m sure we gain from our track racing.

A handshake with DS Matt White at the Tour Down Under in January (Getty Images)

A handshake with DS Matt White at the Tour Down Under in January (Getty Images)

Are you enjoying watching the longer stages early in this Giro d’Italia?

A Grand Tour is sort of like a novel: you have chapters that are more exciting than others, but every chapter is important. You’ve got the long stages which will suit some riders, but it’s all part the race. Longer stages create a little bit of fatigue, so when you get the more exciting stages, you get more drama, because riders’ legs will blow, and some teams will be stronger in certain areas. 

I think the longer stages do have a place still - maybe not as consistently as they used to do. I’m sure some of the sprinters won’t mind having a long, flat day rather than going into a shorter 130km mountain stage …

Do you have strategy for dealing with pain on the bike - things that take your mind off it?

I’m more of an analytical kind of rider: I’ve got all my targets, and all the specific things I should be doing. My brain’s going at 1,000 miles an hour on tactics, or things I should be doing, or what could be coming up … and hopefully that takes it away from what’s happening then and there, in your legs. I’m more about the job that you’ve got to do, rather than thinking about what I’m going to drink afterwards, or what I’m having for dinner that night!

You just try and break it down into all the little segments, all the little parts. If you start thinking your legs are hurting a little bit, and you’ve still got 30km to go [in a TTT] then you’re probably in trouble. Because the negatives will outweigh the positives. 

Riding on the front during the Hammer Chase at Hammer Stavanger in 2018 (Getty Images)

Riding on the front during the Hammer Chase at Hammer Stavanger in 2018 (Getty Images)

You just take each turn as it comes, you make sure you’re doing the right things: getting back on the train as smoothly as you can, controlling your breathing, looking at the right places [along the course], thinking about your aerodynamics: all those little ‘one per centers’ that you’re doing, just try and focus on that, and kilometre after kilometre will go past, and slowly you’ll get towards the end of the race. Whereas if you start thinking about the actual pain, and how far you’ve got to go, you are probably in trouble.

You do that with road races too: you might have a 200km day but you have different segments where it might be flat, or you’ve got a climb, a descent, and you try to break it into all the little segments, and what you’ve got to do in those periods. If you just think of it as one big long race, then it can sort of do your head in.

Australia is famously sport-mad. What sports do you enjoy away from cycling?

Aussie Rules - I love my AFL. I follow it all the time, and I went to the Grand Final a couple of years ago. I tried playing lots of different sports when I was at school - I did dabble in a little bit of AFL but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. 

But I just enjoy watching our nation’s sport, I enjoy what it’s about and it’s something so different to what we are as cyclists. 

It also gives me a little bit of home - each weekend when they footy’s on I come back from training, I can watch a game on replay, and look up all the results and watch all the commentary, so it gives me something which is a bit closer to home when I’m in Europe for six months of the year. 

Do you think Hammer Series will become firmly established alongside the traditional races?

I think it’s got a place - the world is always evolving, along with sport, along with technology - Hammer Series brings a new scope to the sport, something fresh. It will always seem a little bit strange at the start, I think cycling is quite a traditional sport, racing point-to-point in the Classics-style events. 

But I think an event like Hammer Series can be brought into our cities, into really vibrant and exciting places, countries and cultures around the world. With exciting short-format racing, with the best teams in the world coming to race in exciting places - I think it does have a place in the future.

Don’t miss your chance to see Cameron Meyer in action for Mitchelton-SCOTT at Hammer Stavanger, 24-26 May. Read more about the event here.

As always, you can live stream the action for free on the Hammer Series website and social media channels …

Follow Meyer on Twitter: cammeyercyclist

Keep reading:

“At Hammer Series, the race is always on” - interview with BORA-hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett

“You have to work faster and think faster.” - Q and A with CCC Team’s Łukasz Wiśniowski

Amund Grondahl Jansen (Team Jumbo Visma) Q and A: “Your tank is never empty, but you can blow up.”

Meet our Hammer Series commentators