Trek-Segafredo claim convincing victory in flat-out Hammer Sprint race at Sportzone Limburg
Trek-Segafredo’s team combined impressively to claim a convincing win in the first-ever Hammer Sprint at Sportzone Limburg on Saturday.
Lotto Soudal came second and Cannondale-Drapac finished third in a draining race described by one rider as ‘only attacking’.
In two hours of non-stop action, Trek-Segafredo riders Jasper Stuyven, Boy Van Poppel, Giacomo Nizzolo, Matthias Brändle and Gregory Daniel worked together to amass a total of 70.7 points on eight laps of the mainly flat 12.4km circuit.
Stuyven and Brändle were especially active early on while Van Poppel and Nizzolo came to the fore later as Trek-Segafredo grabbed every point possible.
Lotto Soudal scored 61.8pts with Cannondale-Drapac registering 59.6pts across eight scintillating laps of relentless attacking.
Team Sky will start Sunday’s decisive Hammer Chase first, 32″ ahead of Team Sunweb, whose points tally was reduced in accordance with race rules following Ramon Sinkeldam’s crash.
Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) was first over the line on the final lap, putting his head down to beat Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) in the final sprint.
As soon as the flag dropped after a 4km neutralised start, a theme of relentless attacking was established – in keeping with Friday’s Hammer Climb. None of the teams was prepared to let a break go with so many points on offer on each lap.
One-day specialist Vanmarcke stole maximum points on Lap 1, with Stuyven second for Trek-Segafredo. On Lap 2 – worth double points – it was then Brändle of Trek-Segafredo who crossed first with Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) second and Roger Kluge (ORICA-SCOTT) third.
Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT) was soon forced to abandon after a heavy crash also involving Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team) while Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors Pro Cycling) was dropped from the peloton just after that crash and also abandoned.
Lap 4 brought more success for Trek from a three-man break. Jelle Wallays led it out for Lotto Soudal, but Stuyven came off his wheel and had to hold off a determined charge by Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) to take maximum points.
Elia Viviani (Team Sky) won the sprint for fourth, showing they were willing to scrap for every point. After a manic first hour the pace settled slightly but it was still full gas racing.
Viviani had warmed up and turned in a superb, long sprint to score double points for Team Sky on Lap 5.
On Lap 6 – with ORICA-SCOTT slipping down the standings after Ewan’s departure – Kluge attacked impressively and took maximum points.
Canola and Vanmarcke then broke away alone with the Nippo-Vini Fantini man taking the honours on Lap 7.
On the eighth and final lap Vanmarcke had time to sit up and celebrate double points with Canola second and Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal) a very handy third.
Van Poppel of Trek-Segafredo said afterwards: “It was full gas immediately from the start, it was like every lap was the last lap. It was full sprinting all the time and with those laps that were double points, it was full gas!”
Stuyven added: “Today we did really good. We always had a guy in the front, so we never had to chase.”
Italian champion Nizzolo said: “It was really difficult today … all the laps were really a war. But we were racing well and we’re happy.”
Albert Timmer of Team Sunweb added: “It was actually only attacking. It’s a nice way of racing, but it’s tough to do”
Remember that it all comes down to tomorrow and the Hammer Chase. Here is the confirmed start order for what promises to be a thrilling finale to the Hammer Series. Who will be crowned cycling’s super-team?
Top 10 result: Hammer Sprint
1 Trek-Segafredo 70.7 (15″ bonus)
2 Lotto Soudal 61.8 (12″ bonus)
3 Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team 59.6 (10″ bonus)
4 Team Sky 50.9 (8″ bonus)
5 NIPPO Vini Fantini 40.4 (6″ bonus)
6 Team LottoNL-Jumbo 35.4 (5″ bonus)
7 Team Sunweb 30 (4″ bonus)
8 Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 26.5 (3″ bonus)
9 Quick-Step Floors 24.3 (2″ bonus)
10 ORICA-SCOTT 23.1 (1″ bonus)
Hammer Chase start order – Group 2 (14:50 CET)
2. Quick-Step Floors +39″
3. BMC Racing Team +55″
4. Bahrain-Merida +1’18”
5. Team Roompot +1’33”
6. UAE Team Emirates +1’45”
7. Israel Cycling Academy 2’00”
8. Caja-Rural 2’15”
Hammer Chase start order – Group 1 (16:05 CET)
1. Team Sky
2. Team Sunweb +32”
3. Nippo-Vini Fantini +1’00”
4. Lotto Soudal +1’12”
4. Movistar Team +1’29”
5. Cannondale-Drapac +1’49”
6. ORICA-SCOTT +2’02”
7. Team LottoNL-Jumbo +2’16”