A dozen WorldTour teams have signed on for the first race of the Hammer Series, the Hammer Sportzone Limburg, scheduled for June 2-4 in Limburg, Netherlands. The race, promoted by the Velon group, is set to unveil a new format for a future series of the team-centred race, with one race for the climbers, one stage for the sprinters and a head-to-head team time trial on the final day to decide the top team.
Bahrain-Merida and Movistar have joined the 10 Velon teams (BMC, Cannondale-Drapac, Orica-Scott, Lotto Soudal, Quick-Step Floors, LottoNL-Jumbo, Sky, Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates) in starting the event, together with four Pro Continental squad, Roompot, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Israel Cycling Academy and Nippo-Vini Fantini.
The race is the first in an eventual series that Velon CEO Graham Bartlett said he hopes to grow to eight to ten events per season.
The organisers are also holding a sportif ride on June 3, with distance options of 50, 75, 100 or 150km, and youth races for ages 8-14.
The pro racing format is designed to be spectator-friendly, with each race taking place on short loops of 7-15km, and three viewing 'zones' – the free public areas outside the finish, premium viewing near the finish and VIP tickets for hospitality tents with food and drink that cost €150 per day.
"It's going to be huge for the fans," Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott) said in the race press release. "It's a new opportunity for cycling. Everything's centralised, it's on the same circuit so you'll get to see a lot of the race. Hopefully there will be a party atmosphere out there as well. I think it's an event that can grow and promote our sport a lot."
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) appreciates the team aspect of the event. "Cycling is a team sport. At the end it's one guy who can stand on the podium to win a race. The Hammer Series is for the whole team, and that's what makes it unique," the German champion said.
Teams for the Hammer Sportzone Limburg
Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
BMC Racing Team
Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo
UAE Team Emirates
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Israel Cycling Academy