In a thrilling Hammer Chase, the decisive race of the 2018 Hammer Series, the Australian team held off a determined challenge from Belgian rivals Quick-Step Floors on the spectacular circuit in downtown Hong Kong.
After a sustained battle across five laps of the demanding 4.3km circuit, Mitchelton-SCOTT finished 18 seconds ahead of Philippe Gilbert and his Quick-Step team-mates, celebrating as they crossed the finish line.
In the second half of the race, a massive team effort from Quick-Step Floors saw them close the gap on their rivals, but Mitchelton-SCOTT dug in and in the end only gave up two seconds of their initial 20-second advantage. They have won two Hammer Races this year – Hammer Stavanger in May, and now Hammer Hong Kong.
Quick-Step Floors finish second overall in the Hammer Series 2018, with Team Sunweb moving up to third with a strong performance in Hong Kong. See the final leader board here
With time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin driving them on, it was Team Sunweb that won Sunday’s Hammer Chase in a time of 27’07”.
Quick-Step Floors were second (27’16”), and Mitchelton-SCOTT third (27’’18”). Earlier on in the Runner-Up Group, UAE Team Emirates went fastest in 28’13“, with BMC Racing Team second (28’34”) and EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale third (28’35”).
The first race of Sunday’s double-header was the Hammer Sprint, in which Mitchelton-SCOTT triumphed, again showing their tactical know-how in the innovative Hammer Series format. Cameron Meyer stole double points on Lap 6, with Roger Kluge claiming 100 points the lap before that, while Matteo Trentin and Luka Mezgec also chipped in with valuable contributions.
Eddie Dunbar (Team Sky) sprang a surprise with a clever solo attack to win the sprint on Lap 2, before Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) followed suit on Lap 3.
A strong effort by Gilbert for Quick-Step Floors saw him take the Lap 9 sprint- but it was not quite enough to deny Mitchelton-SCOTT. They notched up 996.2 points to take Hammer Sprint victory, with Quick-Step Floors (968.7) second and BORA-hansgrohe (587.8) third.
Mitchelton-SCOTT thus started the Hammer Chase with a 20-second advantage over Quick-Step Floors, but in the end Quick-Step could only make up two seconds. After sealing the Hammer Series 2018 title, Meyer said: “Hammer Series was an important event for us, and to win overall is really good.
“I’m pretty wrecked, we didn’t have much rest between the Sprint and Chase. It’s really tough but I think there’s a future for this style of racing, I really like it.”
His team-mate Trentin added: “It was really hard, especially because we didn’t have time to recover between races.
“The new format is pretty nice, I like it. That’s good about Hammer Series, you can do in a big city … I think people enjoyed the show we put on.”
Mitchelton-SCOTT took a clean sweep of three wins at Hammer Stavanger back in May, while Quick-Step Floors won Hammer Limburg in June, leaving the 2018 Hammer Series nicely poised – and Mitchelton-SCOTT were not to be denied.