Velon's Hammer Series adds fourth race in Colombia from next year
By Callum Murray
Road cycling’s Hammer Series, the innovative international series in which teams compete together, not as individual riders, is adding a fourth race to its line-up from next season, Hammer Colombia.
The new South American race, scheduled for 7 to 9 February, 2020, will include the first women’s Hammer Series event taking place on the same days as the men’s. Both races will follow the established Hammer format, with climb, sprint and chase disciplines over three days.
The first edition of Hammer Colombia will be held in Pereira, the capital city of the department of Risaralda, which, together with Quindio and Caldas, is known as the ‘Coffee Triangle’. The race is backed by the Colombian Sports Ministry, Coldeportes, and the Ministry of Tourism.
Hammer said: “In 2021 and 2022, Hammer Colombia will take place in Quindío and Caldas, respectively, showing off the beautiful scenery and landscape in this famous coffee region.”
This year’s Hammer Series events comprise: Hammer Stavanger, Norway (24-26 May); Hammer Limburg, Netherlands (7-9 June); and Hammer Hong Kong (13 October).
Graham Bartlett, chief executive of Velon, the grouping of top cycling teams that is developing the Hammer concept together with the host cities, told Sportcal that the series is in talks with several cities over further expanding the series to five races.
Those talks are furthest advanced with another European city, according to Bartlett, who said that the expansion to five races is more likely to take place in 2021 than next year, adding: “We want to do it well.”
The most exciting aspect of Hammer Colombia, Bartlett said, is the addition of a women’s race for the first time. He said: “The concept lends itself to joint racing, like a tennis Grand Slam event, with both men’s and women’s races over a festival weekend. It will be a great spectacle for the fans.”
Subject to road closure restrictions, Bartlett said that the women’s race is set to take place over the same course and the same distance as the men’s.
In a statement, he said: “Colombia is the perfect stage for a Hammer race and there's huge excitement among the teams and riders to race Hammer in such a beautiful, dramatic region of the country. With partners in the Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Tourism we know we can create the most spectacular race possible.
“Hammer racing goes from strength to strength and we’re particularly proud to announce a women’s race in addition to the men’s. For a long time we’ve wanted to offer a Hammer race for women and with such strong backing from our hosts in Colombia we’ve finally been able to achieve that. We’re all working to make Hammer Colombia a game-changer in pro-road cycling for the fans.”
Hammer Series events take place over three days with climb, sprint and chase events on separate days. For last year’s final in Hong Kong, a ‘super Sunday’ sprint and chase were held back-to-back on the same day to crown the overall series winner.
Last year’s three Hammer Series events claimed an aggregate 8.3 million video views, with live coverage widely available on social media such as Facebook Watch and Twitter, through specialist websites such as Global Cycling Network, and via broadcast partnerships covering 92 countries.
The series also claimed to have returned $9.5 million in sponsor media value for event partners.
In a Sportcal Insight interview last year, Bartlett said: “What we’ve created with Hammer is made for the fan. Take the best action and ideas, sprinting, climbing, chasing, and make it team versus team. Focus on an aspect no one else is looking at: who is the best team? First over the line wins. It’s centred around the fan.
“Do the finish in the same place as the start; see teams passing 10 or 11 times. You can build a fan hub, an entertainment centre, something for people to be part of. We did the proof of concept in Limburg [in 2017] and got 3.2 million live cumulative views. It was hugely successful in terms of impact.”
To read the interview, click here.