Tom Dumoulin and Sam Oomen will fly the flag for Team Sunweb at the Hammer Series in Limburg. The three-day event starts on Friday and runs through the weekend. Limburg marks the second Hammer race after the series began last weekend in Norway. Mitchelton-Scott won the first race of 2018 but Sunweb will be looking for a competitive performance on home roads.
"I will be suffering, especially five days after the Giro but it's nice to be racing in my home region, with all Dutch crowds who followed us on television at the Giro,” Dumoulin said.
The Hammer Series, organised by Velon, is a relatively new concept and enjoyed its inaugural run in 2017. Friday’s event kicks off with the Hammer Climb, while riders compete in the Sprint on Saturday and the final event – the Hammer Chase – on Sunday.
"The Hammer series is a nice new concept. In cycling you basically have two types of racing; one-day and stage race. Most races on the calendar are similar to the leading races in their category. Take a one-day race like the Tour Flanders. There you have 20 other races that want to be similar to the Ronde. It’s the same for stage racing. There is Tour de France, then there are many stage races that want to be similar to the Tour," Dumoulin said.
"Velon, the initiative behind Hammer Series want to do it differently. It’s a completely new concept and I like it. At Hammer you have to perform literally as a team. I have to say, with normal races it also feels like that in our team. Looking at Giro, we were the team that took second on GC, sharing the good and bad, and together being happy with the result.”
Dumoulin was unable to retain his Giro crown but finished a close second to Chris Froome when the race concluded in Rome last Sunday. Oomen also made the top ten, in just his second Grand Tour, and his first finish over a three-week race. The young Dutchman will once again line up with Dumoulin and is expected to draw out one last performance before a well-earned break. The pair are set to race the first race, the Hammer Series, while teams are are allowed to swap riders for the subsequent events.
"Sam and me will race the Hammer Climb since we're climbers, and three race days is too much for us after the Giro. It will be exciting," Dumoulin added.