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Giro d'Italia 2017 stage winners Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) are among the star names to have signed up for the inaugural edition of the Hammer Sportzone Limburg event over June 2-4.
The Dutch event is the first in team organisation Velon's newly developed Hammer Series, which focuses on team competition.
The majority of the leading WorldTour teams – who are also members of Velon – have committed to the series, including Team Sky, BMC, Quick-Step Floors, Movistar, Orica-Scott, LottoNL-Jumbo, Cannondale-Drapac and Trek-Segafredo.
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) have also signed up. Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) will join Colombian Gaviria and German Greipel in representing the world's fastest sprinters.
The Hammer comprises three events: the Hammer Sprint, the Hammer Climb and the Hammer Chase.
Velon created the event in association with marketing company Infront to try and fill a gap in the more traditional race calendar. Although there is just one event this season, Velon hopes to expand it to around four events in 2018 and up to 10 in future seasons.
Hammer Limberg teams
Aqua Blue Sport
UAE Team Emirates
How does Hammer Series work?
Teams – Seven riders but just five in each event
Day 1 – Hammer sprint
Teams race ten laps of a city-based circuit of around 10km. Points are awarded for the first ten riders each lap. Bonus time is awarded at the end of the day.
Day 2 – Hammer climb
Teams race a hillier circuit, probably taking them out of town, with the finish line at the top of the hill. Points are awarded for the first ten riders each lap. Bonus time is awarded at the end of the day.
Day 3 – Hammer chase
Teams are seeded according to the points, and bonus time, accrued on the first two days with the top seed setting off first with a 30-second advantage over second place. The third team starts 25 seconds further back, the fourth team another 20 seconds back with 15 seconds between all the remaining teams. They complete laps of the course in team time trial mode and the first team over the line wins the whole event.
Additional reporting by Vern Pitt
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