Hammer Series

A new kind of racing, the Hammer Series from Velon.

The first Hammer Series race will be held in the Limburg region of the Netherlands in the Limburg Sportzone complex, between June 1-4, with Velon and Infront confirming that all the Velon teams and other major teams from the WorldTour and Professional Continental level will take part. Velon hopes to develop the series over time, with three or four races set for 2018 and even more in the long term.

Instead of a traditional stage race format, the Hammer series focuses on the strength and success of teams. There are no individual winners with results based on rider placings as a team.

The teams will race in three different events on different days: the Hammer Sprint, the Hammer Climb and the Hammer Chase, each held on an 8-10km circuit to enable the public to see the action multiple times. Each race will be no longer than two hours and be broadcast on television, with the Friday and Saturday racing late in the early evening to attract a bigger TV audience.

The new format sees teams select five riders from a seven-rider squad for each race. The Sprint race covers a flat circuit, the Climb heads into the hills, while the Chase follows a handicap format, where the leading team after the first two days starts first, with the other teams setting off at different time intervals based on their results from the Sprint and Chase race.

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 the races. In 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.

from cyclingnews.com
From what I understood from other media, the Climb-stage in Limburg will be around 10 times a loop including the Cauberg.

Edit: No longer 10 times Cauberg, but 7 times the Vaalserberg (highest point in the Netherlands)

I really like a new concept of racing, I think it's somethink that can work. I only have my doubts about the 'team first' approach. I wonder how this is going to work.
 
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.

THE TEAMS

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 (IRE) Sport
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.
From Team Sunweb's website. Ridiculous phrases aside, it sounds pretty interesting. Although I'm not sure how compelling the final (and unfortunately decisive) TTT will be. But the points races sound exciting.
 
First two days sound pretty good fun, the TTT thing sounds awful though - a real recipe for disaster. What happens if there are crosswinds so the team has echelons - how will one pass another? Passing another team will take ages as well - pretty dangerous on a winding route (or one with lots of street furniture if we're in holiday) and on a straight road drafting becomes an issue even at a reasonable distance - would be very difficult to enforce effectively. And with 15 second gaps you'll get situations where one team is passing two teams at the same time, one of which is also trying to pass another team. Think there will be a lot of crashes or rule breaking if the route is not very carefully considered.
 
More dumbing down, carnival sideshow crap. Which race is this designed to kill, the 80-year-old Tour de Luxembourg it looks like, or maybe Ster ZLM-Toer.

At this point I can't actually tell whose ideas for "developing" cycling (read: turning it into closed circuit races to sell roadside tickets and popcorn) are worse, the money-grubbers at the UCI or the circled-wagon-society at Velon. From the "series of four day races, every race has equal value and has one sprint, one hilly stage, one mountain stage, one time trial" to the "six day max for a stage race, and we'll butcher the Vuelta to make room for more races in the Middle East", picking either the UCI or Velon to take cycling forward is like saying, which debilitating illness would you rather live with? The problem that you're trying to solve really isn't that complicated, and there's nothing 'broken' about the traditional point to point method other than the people racing it often have a vested interest in conservative racing.

If this is the revolution, then count me out. I shan't watch this farce. This isn't the sport I fell in love with, but some dumbed down, sexed up facsimile thereof, pandering to the usual short-attention-span garbage that is infesting sport upon sport causing them to marginalize true endurance and slow-building storylines in favour of short sharp bursts because they somehow believe the audience is too stupid or impatient to get into a normal race of the kind that has been gripping audiences for 2/3 of the year for over a hundred years. I'm getting perilously close to just walking away.
 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
More dumbing down, carnival sideshow crap. Which race is this designed to kill, the 80-year-old Tour de Luxembourg it looks like, or maybe Ster ZLM-Toer.

At this point I can't actually tell whose ideas for "developing" cycling (read: turning it into closed circuit races to sell roadside tickets and popcorn) are worse, the money-grubbers at the UCI or the circled-wagon-society at Velon. From the "series of four day races, every race has equal value and has one sprint, one hilly stage, one mountain stage, one time trial" to the "six day max for a stage race, and we'll butcher the Vuelta to make room for more races in the Middle East", picking either the UCI or Velon to take cycling forward is like saying, which debilitating illness would you rather live with? The problem that you're trying to solve really isn't that complicated, and there's nothing 'broken' about the traditional point to point method other than the people racing it often have a vested interest in conservative racing.

If this is the revolution, then count me out. I shan't watch this farce. This isn't the sport I fell in love with, but some dumbed down, sexed up facsimile thereof, pandering to the usual short-attention-span garbage that is infesting sport upon sport causing them to marginalize true endurance and slow-building storylines in favour of short sharp bursts because they somehow believe the audience is too stupid or impatient to get into a normal race of the kind that has been gripping audiences for 2/3 of the year for over a hundred years. I'm getting perilously close to just walking away.
The Foix-stage suddenly looks like a killer now.

I agree in large parts. I don't really care too much if they keep these races at a minimum, I haven't read much into it, but the concept in itself doesn't belong on the road and should be kept on the trac and so if these races keeps popping up or organisers of more traditional races suddenly are getting good ideas, well, yeah, then we will be in for a bad time.
 
Why Hammer? Because it sounds cool? Did Sarah Hammer invent this?

I don't really see the purpose of this new event, why does road cycling have to be more like track? But let's give it a fair shot, it should at least be an interesting event to watch. As long as regular races aren't replaced by this, there's no issue.
 
Re:

LaFlorecita said:
Why Hammer? Because it sounds cool? Did Sarah Hammer invent this?

I don't really see the purpose of this new event, why does road cycling have to be more like track? But let's give it a fair shot, it should at least be an interesting event to watch. As long as regular races aren't replaced by this, there's no issue.
Because it sounds good in a meeting in front of execs and representatives of the sponsor to have a corporate brand name and logo, regardless of whether it's objectively stupid to anybody outside of that boardroom.

You know, the same way as every team these days designs its kit around what looks cool when lit for a suave corporate launch, not what is identifiable and interesting on the road from the helicam on a wet day in Flanders in March, so every team started looking the same. What looks and sounds good in the boardroom is paramount.
 
This absolutely reeks of Vaughters. Has his fingerprints all over it.

The only possible way I could support this is if it is the format to replace newer races that are struggling to attract riders and crowds. If Cookson allows this to take the place of historic races... :mad:

When I was trying to cut it as a junior I never dreamed of racing glorified criteriums/kermesse races, it was the classics and famous stage races won by riders like Lemond, Indurain, Bartoli, Museeuw, Cippolini, Pantani etc and I wouldn't be surprised if many pros feel the same way.
 
Certainly agree with LS. This is an utter stupid concept by new people to the sport who think that one of the problems in cycling is that fans aren't attached to a particular team and that promoting teams instead of individual riders will somehow promote cycling to a larger global audience.

Further of course, this is seen as a way to get some cash infused to the teams.

While I agree that the stability of Pro Teams will be good for the sport, this isn't the way to do it.

Only way is to incentivize aggresive racing, and get a good TV rights deal for at least the major races as a whole (package) and share revenue among the teams as well.

These muppets seem to have taken the traditional fans for granted.

They risk alienating them in the search for new fans.
 
Re:

LaFlorecita said:
Why Hammer? Because it sounds cool? Did Sarah Hammer invent this?

I don't really see the purpose of this new event, why does road cycling have to be more like track? But let's give it a fair shot, it should at least be an interesting event to watch. As long as regular races aren't replaced by this, there's no issue.
Big problem the teams have (and even some organizers of small races) is that they won't earn anything from the races.

For eg: It wa reported today that Le Samyn paid out their prize money for last year's race, only last week.

A lot of the small races are dissappearing off the calender due to lack of sponsors.

It's not commercially viable for most stakeholders.
 
Jan 15, 2017
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Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
More dumbing down, carnival sideshow crap. Which race is this designed to kill, the 80-year-old Tour de Luxembourg it looks like, or maybe Ster ZLM-Toer.

At this point I can't actually tell whose ideas for "developing" cycling (read: turning it into closed circuit races to sell roadside tickets and popcorn) are worse, the money-grubbers at the UCI or the circled-wagon-society at Velon. From the "series of four day races, every race has equal value and has one sprint, one hilly stage, one mountain stage, one time trial" to the "six day max for a stage race, and we'll butcher the Vuelta to make room for more races in the Middle East", picking either the UCI or Velon to take cycling forward is like saying, which debilitating illness would you rather live with? The problem that you're trying to solve really isn't that complicated, and there's nothing 'broken' about the traditional point to point method other than the people racing it often have a vested interest in conservative racing.

If this is the revolution, then count me out. I shan't watch this farce. This isn't the sport I fell in love with, but some dumbed down, sexed up facsimile thereof, pandering to the usual short-attention-span garbage that is infesting sport upon sport causing them to marginalize true endurance and slow-building storylines in favour of short sharp bursts because they somehow believe the audience is too stupid or impatient to get into a normal race of the kind that has been gripping audiences for 2/3 of the year for over a hundred years. I'm getting perilously close to just walking away.
Totally agree, 100%. If this sport is going to be a Velon-Dubai-Qatar-Chinese lobby, I switch off.
 
Oct 23, 2011
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Yeah I agree with the general sentiment here and LS worded it very well. Looks like nothing but gimmicky corporate *** to me.
 
Re:

DFA123 said:
First two days sound pretty good fun, the TTT thing sounds awful though - a real recipe for disaster. What happens if there are crosswinds so the team has echelons - how will one pass another? Passing another team will take ages as well - pretty dangerous on a winding route (or one with lots of street furniture if we're in holiday) and on a straight road drafting becomes an issue even at a reasonable distance - would be very difficult to enforce effectively. And with 15 second gaps you'll get situations where one team is passing two teams at the same time, one of which is also trying to pass another team. Think there will be a lot of crashes or rule breaking if the route is not very carefully considered.
Very good point. That pursuit TTT thing sounds interesting on paper; but as you say doesn't seem very feasible.
 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
More dumbing down, carnival sideshow crap. Which race is this designed to kill, the 80-year-old Tour de Luxembourg it looks like, or maybe Ster ZLM-Toer.

At this point I can't actually tell whose ideas for "developing" cycling (read: turning it into closed circuit races to sell roadside tickets and popcorn) are worse, the money-grubbers at the UCI or the circled-wagon-society at Velon. From the "series of four day races, every race has equal value and has one sprint, one hilly stage, one mountain stage, one time trial" to the "six day max for a stage race, and we'll butcher the Vuelta to make room for more races in the Middle East", picking either the UCI or Velon to take cycling forward is like saying, which debilitating illness would you rather live with? The problem that you're trying to solve really isn't that complicated, and there's nothing 'broken' about the traditional point to point method other than the people racing it often have a vested interest in conservative racing.

If this is the revolution, then count me out. I shan't watch this farce. This isn't the sport I fell in love with, but some dumbed down, sexed up facsimile thereof, pandering to the usual short-attention-span garbage that is infesting sport upon sport causing them to marginalize true endurance and slow-building storylines in favour of short sharp bursts because they somehow believe the audience is too stupid or impatient to get into a normal race of the kind that has been gripping audiences for 2/3 of the year for over a hundred years. I'm getting perilously close to just walking away.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Brilliant.
 
You guys are out of touch. They need to make cycling more attractive for youngsters...This is a great initiative.
Yes I love the old system, but so many of my fellow 18-24 yr-olds think that cycling is so boring. And If they don't appeal to that generation than cycling will be in some big trouble.
 
Re:

GenericBoonenFan said:
so many of my fellow 18-24 yr-olds think that cycling is so boring. And If they don't appeal to that generation than cycling will be in some big trouble.
I second this. Even at the height of the Ullrich-boom in Germany there was only one, maybe two people at school that were (openly) interested (we were a lot younger than 18-24 though, more like 6-10). Some people seem to think being a cycling fan means you're gay. Sounds like a joke, but sometimes you can really get that impression.
 
Re:

GenericBoonenFan said:
You guys are out of touch. They need to make cycling more attractive for youngsters...This is a great initiative.
Yes I love the old system, but so many of my fellow 18-24 yr-olds think that cycling is so boring. And If they don't appeal to that generation than cycling will be in some big trouble.
They don't really need to do that, they simply do it to make more cash..

Whats better than watching a good ol fashioned mountain slog? Theres a reason Gardeccia has reached legendary status among every respectable cycling fan who watched that race. If I want to watch track racing (which is pretty lame IMO) I go to the track.
 
Yea, this is just a cynical marketing exercise. Probably somebody proposed playing thumping techno around the short circuit and with cheerleaders and dance routines to break up the race. Maybe there can be a scheduled TV timeout with 2km left to allow riders to recoup their energy (from the gruelling one hour race) for a frantic finale, or they can do the classic NASCAR thing of throwing out a "competition caution" when it looks like an interesting fuel mileage race might break out, neutralizing the race and bringing the bunch back together for no reason whatsoever if somebody looks like winning too easily and meaning you know what will happen ahead of time.

Seriously, yes, I understand if somebody comes to the sport new, they find it boring right about now, because there's way too much formulaic racing on the courses given and the race radio era has completely killed the péloton's racing instinct (with the exception of Tim Wellens).

But it really doesn't need focus groups and powerpoint presentations and men in suits nodding at carefully constructed logos and identities for the sporting equivalent of one of those team-building exercise training days your boss sends you on as a tickbox exercise. It just needs organisers to react to the nature of racing currently produced and design their courses with that in mind, and a few riders to learn how to stop riding like they've been lobotomized.

Seriously, road cycling is an endurance sport. It's not broken down into easily digestible 5-10 minute chunks of regular crash-bang-wallop frame-banging action, because that would be completely fundamentally antithetical to what the sport is supposed to be. Races built around super-short races do not allow for the kind of narratives that pull you in to work. The Godfather Part II would really suck if the film just ended with Michael being shot in the hit at the start, or Goodfellas if Henry just squealed to the police and went into witness protection the first time he gets pulled up about twenty minutes in. You can't have a race like Gent-Wevelgem 2015, Paris-Roubaix 2016 or Gardeccia without endurance, distance and time to allow the race storyline to develop. Or, for another point to it, futsal will never replace football.
 

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