The world of bike racing is slowly transforming. Although new technology and equipment changes a lot for the teams and riders, this aspect doesn’t really influence what the viewers of the sport see. There is a considerable lobby for changes to the format of the Grand Tours, as sprint stages (200 kilometres over flat roads) are increasingly considered boring. Thanks to Velon, more live individual rider data is available on our TV screens—like how much power the riders are pushing during a breakaway. But there is more afoot…
Welcome to the Hammer Series: a new three-day race event where everything revolves around the team classification. The race is split into three one-day events.
Day one is several laps of a short course, suited to climbers, during which fourteen teams battle it out for points. Riders win points according to their position when the cross the crest of the climb. Double points are to be had during specified laps. Every rider collects a number of points, but they are only cashed in if the rider completes the race. All the individual points are then added up and allocated to each team and the highest score determines the winning team for that day.
A rider from LottoNL-Jumbo crosses the line first at the top of the climb. Photo: Hammer Series
Day Two takes place on a flat course, but the points system is the same as on day one. There’s a sprint for the line each lap, when riders can earn points for the team.
On the third and final day it’s all about the team time trial. The overall classification of the previous two days forms the running order, and the team leading the classification starts first (the opposite of a normal time trial start order). The following teams start with the same time difference as the overall classification. So if team number two is 30 seconds behind team one in the ranking, team two starts 30 seconds after team one. The result is a field full of time trial teams trying to overtake each other. And because the classification time differences form the starting order, the first team of four riders over the finish line is the winner of the Hammer Series. Thrilling stuff.
More Hammers coming
This year is the second year the Hammer Series has been held. The 2018 series has already had two editions—in Stavanger and Limburg — and on October 14 there’s a series in Hong Kong. Despite the fact that this series is not officially sanctioned by the international racing union UCI, it seems to be catching on. Unfortunately, due to its rebel status, the Hammer Series is not televised live. However, you can find streaming channels in a few corners of the Interweb.
We reckon it’s only a matter of time until the UCI makes these officially-sanctioned events. And we certainly can’t wait until the next event kicks off.