Team Sky triumph at Hammer Sportzone Limburg in thrilling Hammer Chase finale
Team Sky have won the first-ever Hammer Series event at Sportzone Limburg, denying Team Sunweb by a single second in a captivating Hammer Chase.
Their five-man line-up of Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Tao Geoghegan-Hart, Danny van Poppel and Elia Viviani had to dig incredibly deep during three full-gas laps of a 14.9km circuit – and a late tactical move proved decisive.
The British team had lost time-trial specialist Dibben on the third and final lap and their rivals – who were also down to four riders – passed them with 3.5km to race.
But Team Sky weren’t finished and when Van Poppel attacked down the inside of the final right-hand bend before the finish straight, it put the British team firmly in control.
In the final straight, Tao Geoghegan Hart had to sprint to hold off three Sunweb riders. Max Walscheid was ahead of him, but Geoghegan Hart battled to stay ahead and Team Sky were the first team with four riders over the line.
They celebrated as they crossed the line at the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park at Sportzone Limburg, realising they had secured success in the inaugural Hammer Series event.
Giro d’Italia champion Dumoulin – who rode brilliantly for the German-based team in Friday’s Hammer Climb – saw his team-mates come up short by one second after a truly thrilling three days of racing.
Team Sunweb won the Hammer Chase, following Movistar Team’s victory in Friday’s Hammer Climb and Trek-Segafredo’s win in the Hammer Sprint on Saturday.
Sky’s Van Poppel said: “I had to bring them to the last corner in front and it was really close. If I didn’t do that, we didn’t win.”
Dibben said: “It is a team event … it was strange watching Tao being fifth or sixth across the line but he won the race. It certainly brings it home that Team Sky have won, and not an individual.”
Sports director Servais Knaven said: “Danny did a great last job into the last corner, and then it was a bit of a battle that I saw with Tao … it was almost like a bunch sprint on time trial bikes.” What they said: Reaction after the Hammer Chase
Earlier in the day BMC Racing Team had looked on course to win the Group 1 race, which began over an hour before, but they suffered four punctures in quick succession allowing Quick-Step Floors to come through for the win.
BMC had started the race in third position, 55″ behind Trek-Segafredo and 16″ behind Quick-Step Floors Pro Cycling Team, but their powerful line-up including Manuel Quinziato, Daniel Oss and Stefan Küng was always going to make them a threat.
Oss punctured first and they were down to four riders but then Küng, Miles Scotson and Quinziato all flat tyres and Quick-Step stormed through to win.
Quinziato said: “I think we’d be more frustrated with just one or two punctures. With four, you know it’s not our day. It’s a pity, because we were focused to win. It was bad luck but it can happen.
Quinziato’s team-mate Stefan Küng said: “We were really motivated, we were going good, so it’s frustrating. When one after the other punctures at a certain point you just give up. That’s it.”
More than 1.5million cycling fans watched Hammer Series online over three flat-out days of racing. The the race was streamed on the Velon website, YouTube, Facebook and also available via the Velon App.
It was also broadcast on TV networks across the world and the new, innovative format has proved a hit with fans and riders alike.
“A great concept,” said Team Sky sports director Servais Knaven in the team car, seconds after seeing his team clinch a thrilling overall victory.
Hammer Sportzone Limburg: Final standings
- Team Sky
- Team Sunweb
- Lotto Soudal
- Movistar Team
- Team LottoNL-Jumbo
- Nippo-Vini Fantini
- Quick-Step Floors
- BMC Racing Team
- Team Roompot
- Bahrain Merida
- UAE Team Emirates
- Team Caja Rural
- Israel Cycling Academy