Team Jumbo-Visma produced a smart tactical performance to win the Hammer Climb at Hammer Stavanger on Friday evening, with Lotto Soudal second and BORA-hansgrohe third.
On an exciting final lap, Mike Teunissen took double points to seal victory, with four teams battling for top spot right until the end.
The curtain-raiser to the 2019 Hammer Series had been dominated by BORA-hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett early on, but after a mammoth effort in the first six laps, the Irish sprinter fell back.
The race was 10 laps of the 8.9km circuit with a sharp climb on each passing of the start/finish line. Nathan Van Hooydonck (CCC Team) attacked in the opening kilometres, but it was BORA-hansgrohe who took control.
Oscar Gatto won maximum points on Lap 1, and sprinter Bennett then distanced Filippo Ganna (Team INEOS) to cross the start/finish line first on Lap 2.
With double points on offer on Lap 3, a breakaway formed featuring Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck - Quick Step).
But Bennett wasn’t finished, and powered up the climb again, beating the likes of Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) and Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck - Quick Step) with a powerful attack.
The unstoppable Irishman was at it again on Lap 5, leaving Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and Lambrecht in his wake.
On Lap 6, Ben Swift (Team INEOS) bravely attacked and looked set to take maximum points but was reeled in by Bennett yet again, and BORA-hansgrohe had amassed an impressive 800 points from six laps.
After that, the importance of teamwork at Hammer Series became clear, as Bennett fell back and Team Jumbo-Visma and Lotto Soudal moved strongly into contention.
Teunissen took 100 points on Lap 7, with the ever-consistent Tim Wellens second and Petr Vakoc (Deceuninck - Quick Step) third.
Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) claimed 100 points on Lap 8 and Luka Mezgec edged a tight sprint on Lap 9 to set up a thrilling finish.
Teunissen came past Lucas Eriksson (Riwal Readynez) on the final ascent, to take 200 points and clinch victory for Team Jumbo-Visma with 1065 points. Lotto Soudal were second on 928 points and BORA-hansgrohe were third with 869 points - 700 of which were won by Bennett.
Teunissen said: ”Everybody in the team scored a lot of points today and at the end, we were still there with two riders. That was really crucial for our victory today.
“We managed really well to control the breaks all day long, and that was really important. We didn’t win a lot of sprints, only two, but we were always there.”
Pascal Eenkhoorn praised the strong sprints of his teammate. “Mike was very important to us today. He was really strong on that climb. Which was obvious, because he won two sprints.”
BORA-hansgrohe’s Bennett said: “It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be … I was meant to go for double points only, but then I found myself in the break, and then I took whatever points I could.
“I’m completely dead! … I’ll try and recover and see what I can do tomorrow.”
Coming up next at Hammer Stavanger 2019:
The Hammer Sprint takes the teams on an action-packed trip around the city center of Stavanger. The nine laps on the 9.3 km flat circuit, will favor the fast riders as they sprint for points on the finish line of every lap.
The big finale comes with the Hammer Chase, a team time trial pursuit taking place over three laps on a 16.3 km scenic circuit around Stavanger. It includes all the major landmarks and has a longer passage alongside Hafrsfjord, showing off the iconic Swords in Rock monument. The first team to cross the finish line will win Hammer Stavanger.
How to watch:
The Hammer Series is free to watch at the following sites:
Hammer Series website: https://www.hammerseries.com/watch-live
Hammer Series on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HammerSeries
Hammer Series on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HammerSeries
Hammer Series on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HammerSeriesAllOut
If you’re traditional and want to watch on TV, you’ll find all the channels showing the Hammer Series on this page.
Share the excitement:
The official hashtags for Hammer Stavanger are #HammerSeries and #HammerStavanger. We encourage everybody to share their excitement and Hammer experiences on social media throughout the event.