Mitchelton-Scott won once again in Hammer Stavanger, blitzing the Hammer Chase team time trial to complete a clean sweep of the first Hammer Series event of the season. Team Sunweb finished second overall, 2:19 down, while BMC were third, just three seconds behind. Trek-Segafredo, riding in the consolation group, claimed second on the day, setting a time 2:11 slower than Mitchelton-Scott.
A showdown between the Australian team, second-placed Sunweb and third-placed Team Sky was on the cards for Sunday's stage. From the start though, it was clear that nobody would touch Mitchelton-Scott, who started to pull out time immediately.
Sunweb and Sky looked set to battle for second until a crash took out most of the British team. Later on, BMC's late charge saw them close in on the German squad, but they ran out of road, finishing within sight of second place.
"That was awesome. It was probably one of the best rides I've been part of over 50km," said Mitchelton-Scott's Cameron Meyer after the stage. "It was so smooth. We got told we were up quite early and we knew we were on a good one and we just continued on from there so it was a very successful three days."
"I think you saw today that everyone did their all, guys committed 100%," Daryl Impey added. "Everyone was do-ing turns that they could manage and there was no-one hiding today."
"Everyone was laying it down there and throughout the whole series we've been in every move and, even though we've been tired, the morale has been really good."
How it happened
After the Hammer Chase and Sprint stages, the final stage of 2018's first Hammer Series was the Chase, a 48.7km team time trial with a twist. The leading team heads off first, rather than last, for three laps of a flat 16.2km course. The six chasing teams set off 30 seconds, 0:58, 1:23, 1:46, 2:07 and 2:27 later respectively.
The 14 teams were split into two groups, with the best seven fighting for the stage and overall victory, while the bottom seven set off first, fighting for pride and the stage win.
Earlier in the day Trek-Segafredo set the pace in group two, laying down a marker of 55:58 for group one to match. UAE-Team Emirates set off first, with Lotto-Soudal, Trek-Segafredo, Israel Cycling Academy, Caja Rural and Aq-ua Blue Sport chasing them. After passing Lotto, Trek swept past UAE with 29km still to race.
After that it was plain sailing for the American squad, as they pulled out time on UAE for the remainder of the race. UAE looked set for second place among the group until Lotto caught them heading into the final lap, hanging just behind (though not drafting), until they got past with 900 metres to go.
Group one saw the dominant Mitchelton-Scott set off first, having accumulated 2555 points over the first two days. Sunweb, on 1628 points, were the first chasers 30 seconds later. Sky, BMC, Quick Step Floors, LottoNL-Jumbo and Nippo-Vini Fantini set off later.
Immediately, Mitchelton-Scott started to pull out a gap, taking another 30 seconds on Sunweb within the first 7km. Further back, Sky were making up time on Sunweb but it all came to an end for them with 30km to go as three of their five riders were sent flying hitting a curb on a roundabout exit.
Sky emerged from the carnage with four riders, three minutes down on a flying Mitchelton-Scott. Sunweb and BMC were second and third, within twenty seconds of one another, two minutes down. Heading into the final gap, the gaps among the top three remained the same.
In the closing kilometres Sunweb were left with four riders versus BMC's five as Phil Bauhaus pulled off. Mere seconds separated the two teams as they raced into the final kilometre, but Sunweb
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|3||BMC Racing Team||0:02:22|
|7||Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini||0:07:18|