Bahrain-Merida took the win on the first day of Hammer Limburg, working a Mark Padun-Sonny Colbrelli one-two to beat Lotto-Soudal in the Hammer Climb. Colbrelli's stamina and sprinting ability saw him take points early and continue to compete late on after Padun had gone up the road on lap six, staying out front until the final lap.
Lotto-Soudal collected points early thanks to Tim Wellens and Bjorg Lambrecht, with the pair fighting with Colbrelli in the race's later stages. However, with nobody in the late-race breakaway it was advantage Bahrain.
"It was something amazing," said Padun after the finish. "At the start I had good legs but I was 40 days from my last race so I didn't think I could go from the start with the fast guys.
"But in the second part of the race when it was more calm I was able to go with the same watts, same power that I had at the start. I was very satisfied with this race."
"Congratulations to the whole team. It was a fantastic performance by Mark and I'm happy with how things went," Colbrelli added. "It was very important to get a good result today and I'm ready for the sprint tomorrow - to take on Caleb Ewan."
Bahrain-Merida ended up bossing the day with 1371 points, while Lotto-Soudal trailed in second with 973. Consistent placings from Quick Step Floors, Team Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo saw them fill the remainder of the top five at 781, 746 and 598 points respectively.
Saturday's Hammer Sprint stage sees eight laps of a totally flat 12.4km circuit, with double points available on laps two and five as well as at the finish.
How it happened
The 77km first stage of Hammer Limburg took place over 11 laps of a 7km circuit, which featured two climbs. The first, coming midway through the lap, measured 900 metres at 4.2 per cent, while the main climb of the day, upon which points would be scored, came in at 2km at 5.3 per cent.
Quick Step Floors were active from the get go, looking to impose themselves on the second Hammer Series of the season. Caleb Ewan and Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) took first and fourth on lap one, picking up where the Australian squad left off in Stavanger.
By lap two, things had blown up as a roughly 40-man group broke away from the front of the peloton over the hills. Colbrelli and Owain Doull (Team Sky) took advantage over the next handful of laps to collect the points, on a course and format that suited the punchy sprinters well.
The fourth lap saw a smaller group break away, with Kasper Asgreen (Quick Step Floors) taking double points before crashing on the descent. A regrouping followed, with Asgreen needing to finish the race for his 200 points to count. At the halfway stage the standing were: Lotto-Soudal 573, Quick Step Floors 445, BMC 279, Sky 265.
Soon after, Ewan climbed off, taking his 100 points away from his team's total. Padun and Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky) took off on lap six to share the points over the next four laps, while 20 seconds back Colbrelli, Lambrecht, Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Simon Gerrans (BMC) were regulars in the top ten.
Enric Mas (Quick Step Floors) set off in lone pursuit on lap eight, with Lotto-Soudal scrambling to fight Colbrelli further back. Padun hung on as Sivakov dropped back, continuing to rack up the points as he headed into the final lap with a 45-second lead. At the finish line he took the double points, with Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) trailing in second and third.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|6||BMC Racing Team||472|
|8||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||392|
|12||EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|13||Israel Cycling Academy|
|14||Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|15||UAE Team Emirates|
|16||Aqua Blue Sport|