Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Velon and Infront launch new racing format, the 'Hammer Series'

Josh Cunningham
2 Mar 2017

New venture aims to bring spectator-friendly, team-orientated racing to the top level of the sport

Infront Sports and Velon announced yesterday the launch of a brand new format of top-level professional bike racing, and they've called it the 'Hammer Series'. 

The two organisations, a sports marketing company and a business collective formed of WorldTour teams respectively, have devised the concept in a bid to enliven the way in which spectators watch pro bike racing, with an emphasis very much on a 'team victory' that is understandable to all fans. 

A Hammer Series event will be held over a three-day period, with one race on each day. Teams can register seven riders for the series, but can only start five of those seven in each of the three races. The races are designed to suit a different style of riding and selection of riders, but it is the teams' overall scores from each of the rounds that will decide the winner of the event, rather than the individual winners. 

Event one is the Hammer Sprint, which follows the format of a points race but on a 8-10km criterium circuit. The first riders over the line every lap are awarded points, with some laps offering double points, which then tally up to give teams their standings at the end. Event two is the Hammer Climb, which follows the same format but with the finish line at the top of the climb. 

The climax event is the Hammer Chase on the Sunday, which is a staggered-start team time trial over 50km. The leading team leaves the blocks, with the second placed team leaving 30 seconds later. 20 seconds later the third placed team leaves, and then the rest are released at 15 second intervals. Time bonuses that teams have picked up in the first two rounds are also counted here. The winner of the TTT, and therefore of the whole three-day event, is the team that crosses the line first. 

The first Hammer Series is due to take place 1st-4th June in Limburg, the Netherlands. Fifteen WorldTour and Pro-Continental teams have already signed up to participate in the event, with Velon and Infront saying that further teams will be announced in due course. 

'The introduction of the new series signals a new stage in cycling,' said BMC's general manager Jim Ochowitz. 'The objective of Velon is to bring the rider experience closer to fans and the introduction of the three-day Hammer Series races is doing just that. The idea of having a new format of race each day not only increases the excitement around the race but allows fans to experience different race scenarios; sprint, climb and pursuit.'

Indeed, as well as the close-quarter environment, whereby fans get a chance to see the riders far more regularly than in a road race, it is the team-based competition that poses something quite different from the norm. 

'I’m looking forward to seeing how the team element plays out,' says Jonathan Vaughters, team manager of Cannondale-Drapac. 'Obviously cycling is a team sport, we all can see that, but rarely is the best team rewarded as a whole for working together. It’s usually one guy with his hand up in the air at the finish. This is a good chance to look at the sport a little differently. It gives fans a chance to cheer for a team outright, and it gives the guys riding a chance to approach racing differently. It should be fun.'

Read more about: