Hammer Series launched today
A new international race series has been launched: an exciting new multi-discipline team race format, bringing fans right to the heart of the drama.
Today sees the launch of the Hammer Series, a unique new series of races starting in 2017 that creates a must-watch, must-attend racing experience for cycling enthusiasts and sports fans. The Hammer Series will push the world's best cycling teams to the max across the core cycling disciplines and find the ultimate winner. Its format will bring the most exciting elements of team cycling to a broadest audience.
The Hammer Series will feature a ground-breaking team vs team racing format across multiple events throughout the season.
Each race in the series will consist of three high-intensity racing days in a format that will test the teams to their limit using different types of riding, and is guaranteed to go down to the wire! Five riders from each team of seven are selected to tackle each day's discipline with the ultimate goal to cross the finish line first after three gruelling days of racing. Each day will feature multiple laps of 8-10km ensuring wherever fans are on the course they will get the ultimate view of the action.
This is a team vs team race where only a team can win. On Day 1 it's the exciting Hammer Sprint. Day 2 the riders face the punishing Hammer Climb. The final day is the race decider – the Hammer Chase – where the leading team after the first two days starts first, the other teams are chasing and the ultimate winner of the race is determined by the first team over the line. Time gaps between teams will be based on fixed time gaps per position and bonus time gained during Days 1 and 2.
In true team pursuit style, the team whose fourth rider's front wheel crosses the line first in the Hammer Chase is the race winner, earning points towards the overall Hammer Series. The overall winner at the end of the Hammer Series earns the ultimate bragging rights as the best team in the world!
Stephan Herth, Executive Director Summer Sports, Infront says: "Cycling is a key sport in Infront's long-term strategy as well as an important pillar of the wider Wanda Sports business. The new race series guarantees comprehensive cycling action, which is appealing, modern and accessible for fans. This will ultimately lead to re-establish the strength of cycling and position it as an appealing product for media, sponsors and fans."
The Hammer Series has been designed with excitement for fans and viewers as a paramount priority. Its format makes the riding challenge comprehensive – to deliver a definitive verdict on which team is best – while ensuring that the action is fast, exciting, accessible and easy to follow for both die-hard road cycling fans, and sports enthusiasts who may be less familiar with road racing. The structure of each challenge and the Hammer Series' points system ensures that it's the team's performance that is tested and rewarded, not the individuals'.
Infront and Velon have worked together on this innovative race format concept for more than a year, with development support from the UCI and in consultation with teams and riders to create a more exciting fan based, team focused race. There has been significant input from important parties within cycle sport – including riders, sporting directors, team managers, broadcasters and race organisers – along with insight and innovation from major sports events organisers outside cycling.
The Hammer Series race schedule will be developed to fit carefully within the UCI race calendar and starts with the showcase race in early June in the Netherlands, the Hammer Sportzone Limburg. The next Hammer Series races – and their associated franchised partners – are to be announced over the coming months.
In line with the ambitions of Velon to grow the fanbase of cycling and bring all fans closer to the action, Velon Interactive live rider data will be available to fans through the Velon website (www.velon.com), app and social channels, along with updates on race points and positions in a live league table – so all fans can keep abreast of their teams' performances. The data includes power, cadence, heart rate and speed so viewers can see how hard the riders are working on each of the Hammer Series race challenges. On-bike GoPro cameras will feature throughout the series delivering unmissable action footage for fans to get into the heart of the races, and GoPro cameras provide unique behind-the-scenes access to the series and the teams battling to be crowned the best in the world.
Graham Bartlett, CEO of Velon says: "There are many great races in cycling. The teams felt there was room for a new emphasis, something that distilled the core disciplines of the sport and spoke to its powerful team ethic. One of the riders who worked on the concept called it 'impact racing', I think that sums it up."
Each race in the Hammer Series will feature a festival of cycling, including, for example, family mass participation activities, men's and women's pro-am challenges, a fan village, cycling expo and entertainment. Fans and riders who want to learn more or register to ride in the Hammer Sportzone Limburg mass participation race should visit the Hammer Series website (www.hammerseries.com).
How the new format works
The Hammer Series format is designed to give the best teams in the world a unique platform to prove who is the best – giving equal credit to all riders involved because they all contribute to the team's points tally and the performance in the ultimate Hammer Chase challenge.
For each day's discipline, five riders from the team of seven are selected.
Day 1 – Hammer Sprint
● Two hours of blistering entertainment.
● Each team's chosen five riders take on ten laps of approximately 10km* each.
● Points are awarded for the top ten riders to cross the line at the end of each lap.
● Double points may be awarded on certain laps.
● Bonus time gaps are awarded per position after Day 1, which count toward the starting time gaps for the Hammer Chase.
Day 2 - Hammer Climb
● A two-hour pain-fest you can't keep your eyes off.
● Each team's chosen five riders take on a multi-lap challenge of a course specially designed with a punishing hilltop finish line. Total elevation, average and maximum gradients and climb lengths will vary from race to race – but all will test the world's strongest climbing teams.
● Points are awarded for the top ten riders to cross the line at the end of each lap – with the same points structure as the Hammer Sprint.
● Again, double points may be awarded on some laps.
● Bonus time gaps are awarded per position after Day 2, which count toward the starting time gaps on Day 3.
Host cities and franchise partners may choose to swap the Hammer Sprint and Hammer Climb days.
The leader boards for the Hammer Sprint and Hammer Climb are then aggregated to determine the starting position for the Hammer Chase. Fixed time gaps between positions are adjusted based on time bonuses gained during the first two days.
Day 3 - Hammer Chase
● Team Chase is a fox-and-hounds team pursuit on Time Trial bikes.
● Each team chooses five riders for the 50km circuit TTT with their fourth-placed finisher's front wheel the piece of carbon fiber to keep your eyes on!
● Teams set off with a staggered start. The leading team after the first two days goes off first, the second-placed team sit for an agonising 30 seconds and watch them disappear into the distance... and then their gun goes off. The third placed team sweats it out for another 25 seconds – then they go. Fourth team feel the adrenalin surging for 20 more seconds before they're released. Then it's 15-second gaps between all the remaining teams. Fixed time gaps to be adjusted based on time bonuses gained during the first two days.
● All teams must stay in their own formation – no drafting other teams.
● And now there's nowhere to hide... it's a race to the finish line for the most dramatic possible climax to the three-day challenge.
* The exact number and distance of laps will vary from one race to another, to create the most challenging course and most exciting spectacle based on the local topography.
We're excited to announce an incredible line up of the best teams in the world already committed to the Hammer Series. Teams include:
Aqua Blue Sport (IRE)
Bahrain–Merida Pro Cycling Team (BAH)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Cannondale – Drapac Professional Cycling Team (USA)
Quick-Step Floors (BEL)
Lotto Soudal (BEL)
ORICA – Scott (AUS)
Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise Pro Cycling Team (BEL)
Team Lotto NL Jumbo (NED)
Team Movistar (SPA)
Team NIPPO Vini Fantini (ITA)
Team Sky (GBR)
Team Sunweb (GER)
Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Additional teams to take part and battle for the crown of the best team in the world will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Hammer Series premier race Limburg Sportzone
The Hammer Series' premiere race will take place 1st to 4th June, in Limburg (Netherlands), organised by Extra Leisure BV. It's a region that's steeped in cycling tradition, having hosted the most famous Classics, Grand Tour stages, World and European Championships, and will start the Hammer Series in style.
Teams will start the race weekend on the 2nd by pitting themselves against against a punishing climbing circuit on the Vaalserberg in Vaals, finishing at the Drielandenpunt (three country border: Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) and highest point in the Netherlands. The racing then returns to host city Sittard-Geleen, in the all new cycling circuit in Sportzone Limburg, where teams will go head-to-head on the flat and fast courses of the Hammer Sprint and Chase.
"Our region is crazy about cycling. Fans will now have the opportunity to see the world ́s best compete in this exciting new format over multiple days. By having increased contact with riders and activities for all ages, a new generation of cyclists will be inspired because of the memories created during this three-day cycling festival", said Emiel Frambach, Race Director, Extra Leisure.
Riders and Team Principals
The reaction to the Hammer Series from riders and team principals has been universally positive.
"Cycling needs to explore new formats in order to attract more fans, especially from the younger generation. We think that this series created by Velon is an important step in that direction. The format is modern and really appealing to fans from all over the world. The concept of having a three-day cycling event which takes place in the same location could lead to important commercial opportunities which can help cycling develop even more", said Quick-Step Floors' CEO Patrick Lefevere.
His thoughts were echoed by seven-time Monument winner and former World Champion Tom Boonen: "Velon showed that they have the capacity to innovate and ever since coming on the international stage they've helped cycling make significant steps forward. Fans can now enjoy live data during races and incredible footage from inside the peloton, things that weren't available when I made my pro debut. Now we are taking it to another level by organizing this series that promises to deliver in terms of spectacle and excitement. I'm happy that my younger teammates will have the chance to try this new format. Short and fast races on a closed circuit can make up for a great show due to the opportunity to involve fans even more."
"Cycling has a great and long tradition. Some races like the Classics and the Grand Tours are special and will last forever. But besides the great heritage of the sport, we need to produce new concepts and explore new grounds so that we can keep up with the times that are changing very fast. I like the idea that the series is centered around the team and underlines its importance, because cycling it's all about teamwork and cohesion. Having the chance to substitute riders day by day means that each of us, based on our skills, can bring his contribution to the team's result. Tactically, the race will be something completely different than what people are used to and the fight for victory will be open until the very last moment", concluded Niki Terpstra.
All the latest information will be available to fans across the following channels
Download the iOS version of the Velon app.
Download the Android version of the Velon app.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele