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Hammer time again! Cycling series returns in 2018, with racing in the Netherlands and Norway

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Cycling: 1st Velon Hammer Series 2017 / Day 3 Podium / Tao GEOGHEGAN HART (GBR)/ Elia VIVIANI (ITA)/ Danny VAN POPPEL (NED)/ Jonathan DIBBEN (GBR)/ Owain DOULL (GBR)/ Celebration / Team SKY (GBR)/ Sittard-Geleen - SportZone Limburg (44,7km) / Team Time Trial / TTT / Hammer Series / Hammer Chase / Velon Best Team / (Photo by LC/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hammer Series, the three-day pro cycling series has today officially announced its return to one of cycling’s heartlands, Limburg in the Netherlands on 1-3 June 2018 and the addition of a second race in the series, Hammer Stavanger, taking place on 25-27 May. Joining many of the best pro cycling teams in the world, German UCI WorldTour team Bora-Hansgrohe will also be in the mix in 2018.

Following an inaugural event in 2017, which was ‘watched by more than three million cycling fans on social media channels alone’, the Hammer Series now kicks off the 2018 season with two back to back races.

Each race sees three days of intense competition, providing close-up thrills for cycling fans in an innovative team-v-team format designed for digital and broadcast viewing. Unlike traditional stage-based races in which individual riders take to the podium, the Hammer Series pits teams of five riders against each other over testing courses to determine the best team.

The Hammer Series was created by Infront in partnership with Velon. Infront is responsible for media and sponsorship sales on an international basis. Furthermore, it is handling the event together with Velon – as well as undertaking brand management for the entire event series. An integral part of this joint collaboration was also the ‘strategic concept and development of the Hammer Series with its new and attractive race format.’

How does it work?
Each Hammer race is made up of three Hammer race days – the Hammer Climb, the Hammer Sprint and the Hammer Chase. Teams select five riders for each race from a pool of seven so they can field their strongest sprinters, climbers and time trialists for the respective race days.

Day 1 – Hammer Climb
The Hammer Climb is a points race, aimed to test the teams over 7-12 laps of a climbing course. Points are awarded to the first 10 riders across the line at the end of each lap, with double points on offer on three laps including the final.

Day 2 – Hammer Sprint
The Hammer Sprint is another points race, this time taking place over laps of a fast, flat circuit. Once again, points are awarded to the first 10 teams to get a rider over the line at the end of each lap, with double points available on three laps including the final. The race winners are the team that have accumulated the most points, with the top 10 riders receiving bonus points in descending order, that contribute to their starting position in the Hammer Chase on day three.

Day 3 – Hammer Chase
Day three is the decider: the Hammer Chase, a team time trial with a twist. The team in pole position on the leaderboard following the previous two days of racing are first off, and following a fixed time period, they’re pursued by the second placed team and so on. ‘In this thrilling fox and hound type format, the first team over the line will win the Hammer Chase and claim overall victory, earning the title of Hammer Champions.’

In 2017 Hammer Limburg was won by Team Sky, who clinched the event in a nail-biting Hammer Chase, battling elbow to elbow with home favourites Team Sunweb. Despite starting 32 seconds behind the British team, Team Sunweb caught Team Sky with 3.5km to go, providing a fierce finale. Team Sky’s combined coherence on both the Hammer Climb and Hammer Sprint meant they were in pole position for the final Hammer Chase, fielding more or less a full team time trial squad.

Servais Knaven, Team Sky Directeur Sportif explained how the race was won. “Last year’s Hammer Series was a great event and I’m sure it’s only going to get better in 2018. I really enjoyed my view of the racing from the team car in Limburg – it was so exciting, and it was full gas from the gun every day. The format is great and from the look of the spectators at the start and finish it certainly went down well. I think young fans will love this type of racing and that is so important for the sport.”

It wasn’t just those inside the team car enjoying the race, as Tao Geoghegan-Hart, the young Team Sky Rider who was part of the winning squad enthuses, “It was a real pleasure to race in the inaugural Hammer Series last year and obviously it was made all the more special because we won. The racing was intense – with groups coming and going all the time. The format definitely suits aggressive racing.”

He continued, “It’s great that so many cycling fans around the world were able to watch it live. I know a lot of people who don’t often watch racing tuned in because it was live on Facebook. I hope I get to race in one of the events this year and look forward to trying to retain our title we won in 2017.”

Ralph Denk, Manager of Bora-Hansgrohe, explained why his team are participating in Hammer Limburg this year. He said, “I watched the inaugural Hammer race last year with big interest to see how it turns out. Now it is time for us to take part in this series to get also some insights, then we can maybe also contribute to the development of the series in the future.”

Tom Dumoulin, Team Sunweb rider and current world time trial champion reflected on last year’s race. “We had a great first Hammer race in Limburg last year. We were there with a strong team and nearly won. This year we will be there with a strong line-up once again, to try to go for a good result. The Hammer Series is an ideal platform for modern cycling and very exciting for new generations of fans. I really like that all riders contribute to the team result and perform as one unit.”

Joining the series this year is Hammer Stavanger, a race set in the city and municipality of the same name in Norway and the third-largest urban area in the country. As an energy capital of Europe, 50 years as the headquarters for oil and gas activities in Norway have shaped Stavanger into an international region.

Hammer Stavanger will be supported by Veidekke and Repsol, two of the world’s largest energy and civil engineering companies, with operations based in Norway.

Sven Erik Bystrøm, Norwegian rider for the UAE Team Emirates said “I’m really looking forward to Hammer Stavanger because it adds something new to my race calendar. It also takes place in my home city, and it gives me extra motivation to ride in front of my family and friends along the road. I’m also happy to show my teammates what a beautiful place the Stavanger region is.”

Hammer Stavanger will follow the Tour des Fjords 2018, which takes place May 22-24.

Course, venue and rider information for Hammer Stavanger and Hammer Limburg will be announced in the coming weeks, along with details about where to watch the events in person and online around the world.

www.hammerseries.com

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