By Shane Stokes
British rider Roger Hammond had a disappointing showing in this year’s Paris-Roubaix due to a broken thumb, but he is already working hard in order to be 100 percent ready for next year’s edition. "I have started training again now," Hammond told Cyclingnews this week. "The off-season gets shorter and shorter due to the way the season is now. If you want to be good in the Classics, you have to start training fairly early on. So there wasn't a great deal of time off once I had been away [to Fuerteventura] for a week. Paris-Tours is halfway through October and then you start training in November - that doesn't give much of a break."
Hammond joined the Discovery Channel team this year and says that working alongside Lance Armstrong has motivated him. "He's a very, very inspirational guy," Hammond continued. "It wasn't that I wasn't a fan of his before I went to the team, but to be honest with you, I had very little to do with him before this season. With our racing programmes, I don't think I competed against him for three years so as far as racing against him goes, I had very little experience of it. Certainly on a personal level, in any races we were together, I just knew him to say hello. But once you have worked with him, you can see why he is such a champion and why he went on to win the Tour seven times. I know it sounds a bit of a cliché, but I wouldn't put it past him to achieve anything he wanted to do because of the mentality he's got."
Watching Armstrong work so hard towards his goals has rubbed off on the 31 year-old former world junior cyclo cross champion. "It definitely influences you," Hammond stated. "Take today, for example. Okay, I don't mean to sound like a wuss, it is not something I think about every day, but on days like this when it was absolutely lashing down, I was thinking 'Damn, I've got to go out and train.' But then you think about it a bit and realise that Lance didn't win the Tour de France by staying in when it was raining like this. That crosses your mind, and you think 'Okay, I gotta do it.'"
"The other day, I was thinking about overtraining and asking myself if I was working too hard for this time of year. Then I started calculating back from July, working out what would be the equivalent timespan for him as it is for me, from now to Paris-Roubaix. Looking at it that way, Lance was going up the side of the hill in Paris-Nice, so it made me realise that perhaps I am not training too hard after all. So yes, being around Lance does have an effect."
A full Roger Hammond interview will follow on Cyclingnews in the next few days.