Roger Hammond secured his best ever placing in a major Classic when he took second in Ghent-Wevelgem today. Hammond had escaped in the ‘suicide break’ of the day after just 40 kilometres, but held on brilliantly to take second place behind team mate Marcus Burghardt after the pair got their tactics spot on.
Despite not winning, Hammond deservedly crossed the line with his arms in the air. In what was a collective triumph for the T-Mobile squad, Hammond?s team-mate Marcus Burghardt finished first after attacking just before the red kilometre flag to escape from Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire, the danger man of the five-man break away group.
When Freire eventually gave chase to Burghardt, Hammond stuck to his wheel, before jumping round the three time world champion just before the finish line to complete the T-Mobile one-two.
It was Britain?s best placing in the prestigous mid-week Classic since Sean Yates placed second back in 1989, and a superb result for Hammond. Britain?s top one-day specialist had taken off in an attack just 40 kilometres from the start.
170 kilometres later, he was still in the break, and able to mastermind the tactical manouvre which saw Freire and another top Spanish sprinter, Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) lose out.
Hammond and Frenchman Christophe Mengin (Fdjeux.com), together with Florent Brard (Caisse d?Epargne) had been joined by Freire, Ventoso and Burghardt after the second ascent of the Kemmelberg. The three leaders had just ten seconds over the main bunch, that contained many of the race favourites, as Friere, and Ventoso rode across with Burghardt glued to their wheels. Brard was quickly dropped as the five man group started to rebuild their lead to over 40 seconds.
With Hammond leading on the front, Burghardt attacked from the back of the line to go clear. When Freire countered, Hammond was straight onto his back wheel. It was a textbook move that gave T-Mobile their second, and badly needed, win of the season.
?I gave it 100 percent right the way through.? Hammond said afterwards. ?It was a really tough day and not simple to win with two fast Spaniards in the break.?
?But I wanted to stay on the front for as long as possible to ensure that Marcus could get a good chance to get away. And that?s exactly what he did.?
The race was, however, marred by several nasty crashes on the descent of the cobbled Kemmelberg that is ridden twice in the last 70km of the race. Normally ridden cautiously in bad weather that is typical in this race, the riders flew down the descent, with several hitting the deck as water bottles jumped out of the cages and riders’ wheels seemed to wash out for no reason.
Hammond will ride Paris-Roubaix this coming Sunday.
GHENT-WEVELGEM: TOP FIVE
1 Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile)
2 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile)
3 Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
4 Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval)
5 Christophe Mengin (Française des Jeux)