A series of calendar changes in 2020 caused by the staging of the Tokyo Olympics has resulted in the decision not to hold a professional race as part of the Hammer Limburg event in The Netherlands next year.
However, the Hammer Series intends to stage an expanded Hammer Youth event offering ‘the best young riders in the Netherlands and Europe a chance to race the innovative and exciting Hammer format.’ The full Hammer Limburg event featuring both men’s and women’s races will return in June 2021.
The changes brought about by the Olympics mean that two major WorldTour races, the Giro d’Italia and the Criterium du Dauphiné, will take place on the dates in June that Hammer Limburg has occupied for the past three years.
A release from the Hammer Series team noted that ‘Several options were evaluated to find a new date feasible for all parties, but unfortunately, it was not possible to secure suitable alternatives in 2020.’
There will still be plenty of Hammer action in Limburg in 2020, as an expanded Hammer Youth event will highlight the future stars of road cycling – boys and girls across all age categories – and giving them the opportunity to learn the skills of racing the Hammer format over a multi-day event, planned to take place on the original Hammer Limburg dates of June 6-7.
For the last three years, the Hammer Youth race has reportedly grown into the biggest (oversubscribed) youth race in the Netherlands with age category national champions from neighbouring countries travelling to Limburg to fight for Hammer Youth champion honours in front of their heroes from many of the best professional teams in the world.
Hammer Limburg was the inaugural Hammer event launched in 2017. The race has been popular with the fans given its challenging Hammer Climb course and Sprint and Chase finishes in the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park, ‘accumulating more than 14 million video views and being broadcast in more than 140 countries.’
Graham Bartlett, CEO of Velon, the organisation behind the Hammer Series, said “The inaugural race of the Hammer Series in Limburg in 2017 saw a nail-biting finish which people are still talking about. It set the tone for the amazing races which have followed. However, the success of Hammer Limburg was definitely not only in all-out racing we have seen by the best teams in the world or the impressive viewing figures, but also in establishing one of the best youth racing events in Europe.
“Despite the disappointment of not being able to see the best teams fighting it out in Hammer Limburg 2020, we’re excited about continuing the investment into Hammer Youth in 2020 and are already looking forward to being back with a men’s and women’s pro race in 2021.”
Jos Bessems, Alderman at Sittard-Geleen said “Sittard-Geleen is committed to youth participation and sports. We are excited to arrange a stunning youth event together with the Hammer Series. We also have plans to organise an elite women and men’s Hammer Series at the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park in 2021 in which innovation will play a major role.”