Following the launch of the Hammer Series – billed as a ground-breaking new series of races starting in 2017 – the hosts of the first event, Hammer Sportzone Limburg in the Netherlands, have detailed a ‘suite of inclusive activities so everyone can enjoy a long weekend of cycling fun and action’. The pro racing at Hammer Sportzone Limburg is complemented by a 4-day cycling festival on 1-4 June, packed with mass participation races, a fan village, expo, live entertainment, youth area, team bus parades, and more to inspire and entertain fans.
The new Hammer Series is under way this year as a partnership between leading international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media (integrated with IRONMAN as part of Wanda Sports) and Velon, the business venture that is aimed at bringing the sport of cycling closer to the fans. Last year, Velon, the company behind eleven UCI World Tour Teams, entered into a 10-year partnership with Infront Sports & Media.
Hammer Sportzone Limburg activities on Thursday 1 June include open track cycling for all ages from 17:00 CET followed by the Official Opening Ceremony and Teams Presentation from 19:00 and concluding with the Opening Party from 21:00 to midnight.
A series of children’s and youth races are set up with seven race categories competing over distances suited to their age. The action starts with eight-year-olds racing over a 6km course and steps up in age groups until the final youth race, 14-year-olds tackling a 30km race.
For each age group the children will be divided into equally-numbered teams linked to a professional team, and ‘the team-racing ethos applies throughout the Hammer Event – just like the pro riders’. Each youth team will have the privilege of warming up under the watchful eye of a sport director of its selected professional team and will be easily identifiable with each rider carrying a bidon of the pro team. And just like the pros, points are awarded for performances throughout the team, across the age groups.
In each category the top three riders have the thrill of receiving their prizes awarded on the big podium. The youth teams will then be offered the unique opportunity of visiting their selected pro team’s bus immediately after the bus parade.
Saturday 3 June sees thousands of riders participate in the Hammer Tour, choosing from the selection of 50K, 75K, 100K and 150K sportives – the courses go via Germany, through Aachen and the 150km course will follow the same route as the pros face in the Hammer Climb.
All registered riders will receive a bidon and goodie bag with a special Hammer Series giveaway. A limited edition Hammer Jersey is available to buy, up until 28 May, when athletes register. ‘Racers will be glad to note that a Strava section hosts a sprint challenge on the safe cycling zone (riders must upload to Strava afterwards to receive their prize).’
All registrations for the Hammer Tour rides will receive access to the Premium Viewing Zone – the best spot to watch the pro race – it’s right on the finish line, and furnished with LED screens and other comforts including an exclusive bar area.
The Hammer Sportzone Limburg Pro Race
The professional teams start the Hammer Sportzone Limburg race weekend on Friday 2 June in the Hammer Climb, pitting themselves against a punishing climbing circuit on the Vaalserberg, finishing at the Drielandenpunt (three country border: Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) and highest point in the Netherlands. The racing returns to host city Sittard-Geleen on Saturday 3 June in the all-new cycling circuit in Sportzone Limburg, where teams will go head-to-head on the flat and fast courses of the Hammer Sprint and Sunday 4 June’s decisive Hammer Chase.
Five riders from each team of seven are selected to tackle each day’s discipline with the ultimate goal to cross the finish line first after three gruelling days. Each day will feature multiple laps of 7-15km (7km Hammer Climb, 12.4km Hammer Sprint, and 14.9km Hammer Chase) ensuring wherever fans are on the course they will get a view of the action.
The confirmed WorldTour and Pro-Continental teams competing to be crowned winners are:
• Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
• BMC Racing Team
• Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
• Movistar Team
• Quick-Step Floors
• Team Lotto NL-Jumbo
• Team Sky
• Team Sunweb
• UAE Team Emirates
• Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
• Israel Cycling Academy
• Nippo-Vini Fantini
• Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
For those watching the racing action, there are three viewing tiers. The Public Viewing Zone is where the public can watch across many areas along the course. Meanwhile, the Premium Viewing Zone is hosted in tents along the finish line and will also include giant screens showing the racing from around the circuit. There’s also the VIP Viewing Zone on the finish line, which includes a selection of food and drink to enjoy as fans watch the action.
“It’s going to be huge for the fans,” said Sam Bewley of ORICA-SCOTT, “It’s a new opportunity for cycling. Everything’s centralised, it’s on the same circuit so you’ll get to see a lot of the race. Hopefully there will be a party atmosphere out there as well. I think it’s an event that can grow and promote our sport a lot.”
Sprinter André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal added “Cycling is a team sport. At the end it’s one guy who can stand on the podium to win a race. The Hammer Series is for the whole team, and that’s what makes it unique.”
Emiel Frambach, Race Director of Hammer Sportzone Limburg, Extra Leisure, said, “We can’t wait to see all types of riders flood to Limburg to experience the Hammer Tour; we have worked hard to make sure each route and all the extra festival activities will leave the riders with an unforgettable experience of Limburg.
“Although there is plenty of space to view the race for free, we have created different viewing options to make the first ever Hammer Series event that extra bit special.”