Continuing to race a discipline that turned him into a classics specialist on the road, but which now offers little reward, Roger Hammond now appears to have a love-hate relationship with cyclo-cross. However, Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé found that Hammond, with a new team and new colours, will now focus on the future.
The finish of the cyclo-cross race on New Year’s eve in Diegem is part of the Superprestige Series. Not much special was going on - besides the fact that Sven Nys (Rabobank) won for what seemed like the 150th time, which says more about Nys’ level than the other way around. Minutes after Nys’ win, the zone past the finish line was filled up with all sorts of riders, most of the well known riders came in first, but as the clock ticked on, the more unknown riders reached the line.
Late in the day, minutes after Nys rolled through, a Discovery Channel jersey was spotted rolling across the line. It was Roger Hammond, whose kit combined the Discovery Channel strip with the colours of Great Britain, the colours he earned as the national road champion. It was his last day in the Discovery Channel jersey, since he's signed a contract with T-Mobile for 2007, and the day didn't seem to agree with him.
"Argh, it's just a fight in the beginning of this race; I've got to start in the sixth or seventh row behind guys who probably start many races. Then I punctured on the second lap just after my pits and I have only one spare bike so I had to do a complete lap on a flat tyre." No further explanation was needed, Hammond had bad luck that day.
Still, he managed to sneak just ahead of the rather unknown Belgian Jorn Van der Veken to rank 31st. Hammond made it clear that this level of competition doesn't suit him. "I don't know what the UCI is trying to do to cyclo-cross but they're making it for pure cyclo-cross riders. But to cross over like me it's hard; to me, they are killing it… I can't do this anymore, it's just waste of my time," complained Hammond.
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