Hammer Chase: -
Quick-Step Floors led from the front to seal victory in Hammer Series Limburg, finishing 36 seconds ahead of Mitchelton-Scott that had started in fourth position, 1:23 down. LottoNL-Jumbo rounded off the overall podium, 58 seconds back.
Mitchelton-Scott won the day, setting a time of 39:50. BMC (fifth overall) took second at 40:09, and Quick-Step were third fastest at 40:29.
The day capped a consistently strong weekend from the Belgian squad. Friday saw them finish third in the Hammer Climb led by the efforts of Kasper Asgreen and Enric Mas. Álvaro Hodeg and Yves Lampaert were the main points-getters as they took second behind a dominant Mitchelton-Scott in Saturday's Hammer Sprint.
After the finish, Philippe Gilbert, who raced the day with a broken radio, talked of his team's tactics.
"It's a nice concept because you have to ride but you have to think at the same time and it's really intense over the three days," he said. "Today it was an advantage of course to start in front and we started safely - a good pace but not too fast. We tried to speed up every lap.
"We knew that some guys would come closer, maybe go too fast and then get cooked for the last lap and I think that's pretty much what happened," he added.
His teammate Hodeg added, "I was a little bit nervous before the race. It was my first TTT with these very experienced guys but I'm really happy to race with them."
Mas also said, "We did a really good job on the day of the climbing and yesterday and we are really happy to win the race."
How it happened
Held over three laps of a 12.4km circuit - the same used for Saturday's Hammer Sprint - the Hammer Chase would be the deciding stage of the second-ever Hammer Limburg. The Chase is a team time trial with a twist - the leading team heads off first, with seven teams chasing at intervals of 30 seconds, 58 seconds, 1:23, 1:46, 2:07, 2:27 and 2:47.
The 16 teams were split in two, with the top eight fighting for the stage win as well as the overall, while the bottom eight were only able to compete for the win on the day.
In the 'runner-up group', Team Sunweb set off first and never looked like they would be caught. Their chasers, Israel Cycling Academy were caught by EF-Drapac on lap two, with the latter falling 1:30 back on Sunweb, having started 58 seconds behind the German squad.
Sunweb, perhaps inspired by their surroundings - the race is set in Limburg's Tom Dumoulin Bike Park - eventually put in a time of 40:56, setting the benchmark for the top eight teams to beat for the stage victory.
Half an hour later, it was time for the 'finalist' group to start, with Quick-Step Floors leading the way, followed by Bahrain-Merida, LottoNL-Jumbo and Mitchelton-Scott. The Australian team, that boasted a rested Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn among their ranks, would set off 1:23 behind Quick-Step, with the race for the overall win expected to be a battle between the two squads.
Mitchelton-Scott swept up LottoNL-Jumbo after just 6km, gaining 19 seconds on Quick-Step by the end of the lap, while Bahrain fell nine seconds back. Meanwhile, over two minutes down the road Team Sky, BMC and Lotto Soudal all caught Bora-Hansgrohe at the same time, causing a minor snarl-up on the technical section towards the end of the lap.
By the end of lap two, Bahrain had been passed by Mitchelton-Scott, but not before the Australians lost some time following them through a twisty section. Quick-Step Floors led by 53 seconds into the final lap, the overall title their barring a disaster. LottoNL-Jumbo followed four seconds later.
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Hammer Series Limburg - Chase
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||BMC Racing Team||0:00:19|
|9||UAE Team Emirates||0:01:33|
|11||EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale||0:01:47|
|13||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:02:43|
|14||Aqua Blue Sport||0:02:57|
|16||Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini||0:03:22|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|5||BMC Racing Team|
|10||EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|13||Aqua Blue Sport|
|14||UAE Team Emirates|
|15||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|16||Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mitchelton - Scott||181||pts|
|2||Quick - Step Floors||153|
|3||BMC Racing Team||108|
|4||Team Lotto NL - Jumbo||100|
|7||Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team||53|
|10||Nippo - Vini Fantini - Europa Ovini||28|
|11||Trek - Segafredo||22|
|12||EF Education First - Drapac P/B Cannondale||15|
|13||UAE Team Emirates||15|
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