After animating the lead group throughout the first day of the Hammer Series in Vaals, Netherlands, Carlos Betancur vaulted Team Movistar into the lead Friday. The three-day race features a new team-centric format.
“I have trained so hard in the last couple of months, training at altitude,” Betancur said. “A team like this deserves the form I have here. It was an amazing performance by the team and we came here with the idea of winning.”
The first day of the Hammer Series was designated as the “climb” stage. It was 11 laps of a 7km circuit. Riders sprinted for points at the top of the Cauberg climb on each circuit.
Betancur won laps three and four. The lead group swelled to 13 after eight chasers latched on, but the Colombian was unconcerned, making it three in a row on lap six, giving Movistar a significant 10-point lead.
Sky’s Tao Geoghegan Hart mounted a challenge to Betancur in the second half of the race, but he crashed out of the lead group on lap eight after clipping his pedal in a corner.
Newly crowned Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin had a strong showing in the front group as well, though he didn’t win any of the day’s sprints. “It was incredibly hard. I’m happy that it’s done. I couldn’t attack. I was happy to be there and have a little bit of a sprint,” the Dutchman said.
“Betancur was flying. He was way move explosive than I after 21 days in the Giro. I still took some shape with me from the Giro. I went full gas and that’s all I could do today. I’m happy that we’re second.”
Movistar’s Colombian continued his romp in the final sprint, beating LottoNL-Jumbo’s Victor Campanaerts.
The race continues Saturday with the Hammer Series Sprint event. Stage 2 takes on a similar format to the first day, although the points sprints are on flat terrain, not the steep Cauberg climb. Sunday features a decisive pursuit-style team time trial.
Hammer Series Climb results
1. Movistar Team, 144.8 points, 15 bonus seconds
2. Team Sunweb, 98.9 points, 12 bonus seconds
3. Team Sky, 84.7 points, 10 bonus seconds
4. ORICA-SCOTT, 83.3 points, eight bonus seconds
5. BMC Racing, 75.2 points, six bonus seconds
6. NIPPO Vini Fantini, 53.6 points, five bonus seconds
7. Quick-Step Floors, 53 points, four bonus seconds
8. LottoNL-Jumbo, 27.7 points, three bonus seconds
9. Lotto Soudal, 23.7 points, two bonus seconds
10. Cannondale-Drapac, 2.3 points, one bonus second