2019 Hammer Series - All out to winWed 23 Jan 2019
The Hammer Series is back with a bang and teams and riders are throwing down the challenge to each other in the fight to win the world’s only team-based professional cycling series.
The Australian team Mitchelton-SCOTT were crowned Hammer Series 2018 champions after a closely-fought battle over the Climbs, Sprints and Chases in Stavanger, Limburg and Hong Kong. The Hammer Series sees teams compete together, not as individual riders, making the Hammer format unique in elite professional cycling.
This year, 14 of the world’s best teams are committed to another series of strength-sapping races, watched by thousands of people on the streets and millions online.
Matt Wilson, the Mitchelton-SCOTT Sport Director who plotted his team’s triumph in Hong Kong, said: “There’s great rivalry amongst the teams but it’s only in the Hammer Series that we get to go head-to-head on the road and prove it. It’s the best team that wins and the guys love racing it.”
Cameron Meyer, who was one of the five riders spraying champagne on the podium, declared: “Hammer is an important event, new in the world of cycling, and for us to win the Series last year was brilliant.”
But the champions will be in for a tough time, with other riders vowing to go all out to wrestle the title from them, not least last year’s runners-up.
Philippe Gilbert, Deceuninck Quick-Step, said: “This time, we want to win. No discussions. I really like this concept. It’s so intense, you have to fight for every point and every second out there.”
Team-mate Fabio Jakobsen was emphatic: “We want revenge from last year. We are coming for them.” Elia Viviani said he too was fired up by the challenge: “We are really motivated to win the Hammer Series. Come and try to beat us!”
But the pressure on Mitchelton-SCOTT will come from the rest of the world’s top teams participating in the series as well.
Caleb Ewan, who has switched from Mitchelton-SCOTT to Lotto Soudal, predicted: ”I think Lotto Soudal will win this year. We have a very strong, well-rounded team.
“We have guys who can win on the climbs, time trialists to bring it home and I think that I can do pretty well in the sprints too.”
Dutch Time Trial specialist and Giro d’Italia 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin was equally forthright about who will emerge on top. “Team Sunweb is going to win the Hammer Series” he said. “We have good climbers, good sprinters and we are strong in the team time trials. We are simply the best.”
Hammer Series events take place over three days with the Climb, Sprint and Chase on separate days. For last year’s final in Hong Kong a “super Sunday” Sprint and Chase were held back-to-back on the same day to crown the overall series winner.
A new feature of the Hammer Series 2019 is the naming of a captain in each team. The captains will be their team’s figurehead, always a big part of any team sport and something cycling’s “Road Captains” will bring to the fore in Hammer races. The captains’ names will be revealed later.