Colombian climber dominates opening event
Carlos Betancur (Movistar) dominated the Hammer Climb race to put his team at the top of the standings after the first of three stages in the inaugural Hammer Series event.
Taking an innovative format with points awarded to teams depending on where their riders crossed the line at the end of each of the 11 laps, the racing was fast an furious from the start.
However on the third lap Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) attacked, drawing a five-rider group clear including Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo), Carlos Betancur (Movistar), and Iuri Filosi (Nippo-Vini Fantini).
Betancur led that group over the line at the end of the third lap, where double points were awarded, and again at the end of the fourth lap, both times pushing Geoghegan Hart into second.
That group was eventually caught by a small collection of chasers led by BMC Racing, which then split almost immediately with Betancur once again leading Geoghegan Hart and Dumoulin across the line at the end of lap five.
Watch: Hammer Series explained
Those three led a seven rider group, also including Filosi, Gianlucca Brambilla (Quick-Step Floors), Stefan Küng (BMC Racing), and Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott).
Filosi out-sprinted Betancur for maximum points next time round and then took off in a big solo effort. However that move didn’t last long, with Geoghegan Hart winning the next lap ahead of Betancur, helping Sky close Movistar’s gap at the top of the standings.
But disaster struck for Geoghegan Hart on the following descent, clipping a pedal on the way out of a corner, crashing hard to leave six at the front.
The penultimate lap once again saw Betancur take the points, before Campenaerts, having come across from the chasers, went on the counter-attack.
Under the flamme rouge Campenaerts held a ten second gap, prompting Betancur to spring an attack, quickly closing the gap the the Belgian, before going over the top to cross the line first, securing victory for Movistar.
The racing continues on Saturday with the Hammer Sprint, a race of a similar concept but run on a flat course, and concludes on Sunday with the Hammer Chase, a team time trial run in the style of a pursuit.
Hammer Sportzone Limburg, Hammer Climb: Vaals to Vaals (77km)
1. Movistar 144.8 points
2. Team Sunweb 98.9 pts
3. Team Sky 84.7 pts
4. Orica-Scott 83.3 pts
5. BMC Racing 75.2 pts
6. Nippo Vini Fantini 53.6 pts
7. Quick-Step Floors 53 pts
8. LottoNL-Jumbo 27.7 pts
9. Lotto Soudal 23.7 pts
10. Cannondale-Drapac 2.3 pts