Hammer Hong Kong takes Hong Kong Cyclothon to thrilling heights
The high octane, inaugural Hammer Hong Kong race will bring a spectacular finish to the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon on October 14 when over 5,400 riders from local amateur cyclists to elite world road racing champions take to the streets in a massive cycling festival.
A cyclothon for all ages
Organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon returns for the fourth year with events ranging from the intensive Women’s and Men’s Open Races, 50km Ride to a leisurely 30km Ride and Family Fun Ride.
Starting and finishing on Salisbury Road at the scenic Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade with the magnificent Victoria Harbour as a backdrop, riders for the 50km will challenge themselves as they speed across iconic landmarks of Hong Kong including three tunnels and three bridges, while 30km riders will enjoy splendid views from Stonecutters Bridge.
Bringing the events to a thrilling climax is the inaugural Hammer Hong Kong, an adrenaline-fuelled race that serves as the finale to the revolutionary international professional Hammer Series 2018.
Attesting to the popularity of the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon, Hong Kong’s cycling legend and ambassador of the event Wong Kam-po says, “The Cyclothon has built up a good reputation and riders from around the world look forward to cycling once a year on routes that are not normally accessible on a bike like the Tsing Ma Bridge and highways. It’s a mass participation sports event with a lot of fun and camaraderie. I am very excited to see the debut of Hammer Hong Kong this year. It’s not easy to get so many world-class pro athletes to come here at the same time. The new-format races will give cycling enthusiasts a great platform to watch elite racing up close and personal.”
Dubbed Showdown Sunday, Hammer Hong Kong is a new leg and the final event that will decide who will be crowned Hammer Series 2018 champions.
Launched in 2017, the Hammer Series is different from other professional races in Europe as it is based on a team-versus-team format, rather than individual riders and time. The 2018 races kicked off in Stavanger, Norway in May and continued in Limburg, the Netherlands in June. The race will arrive in Asia for the first time with Hammer Hong Kong, a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Class 1.1 Road Race.
An unprecedented 11 UCI WorldTour teams, plus three UCI ProContinental teams and a Hong Kong National Team will fight it out in a Hammer Sprint and Hammer Chase to win Hammer Hong Kong in two back-to-back races on Salisbury Road.
Each team consists of seven riders with five riders picked for each discipline. They will compete head to head in the Hammer Sprint - a fast and furious 10-lap race over a 4.3km circuit.
During the action-packed, fox-and-hound Hammer Chase, all other teams will try to catch team one with starting positions decided by the result of the Sprint. The team whose fourth rider crosses the finish line first wins Hammer Hong Kong.
The team that accumulates the most points in total from Stavanger, Limburg and Hong Kong will be crowned Hammer Series 2018 champion.
The Formula One event of cycling
“Hammer is the only elite global series in cycling that crowns the best team in the world,” explains Graham Bartlett, CEO of Velon, co-founder of the Hammer Series. “We want to expand it to Asia and found fantastic partners in the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Sun Hung Kai Properties. We thought it’s a great idea as Hammer racing is all about creating a festival; the event is like a Formula One weekend, with a party and people riding their bikes. Also, Hong Kong is such a wonderful and iconic venue and location, so to have an elite sporting event there is something we thought would be really special.”
A premier league on wheels
Hammer Hong Kong will see the best professional teams in the world competing. “We have got former world champion Philippe Gilbert from Quick-Step Floors, plus Tom Dumoulin from Team Sunweb who won the Giro d’Italia in 2017 coming. And we also have teams like Team Sky who won the Tour de France this year. So we have the winners of all the biggest races in the world in cycling all coming to Hong Kong. They are the best of the best – the premier league of cycling – and they are here to win it,” says Bartlett.
“Heading to a new continent in Asia will be a great addition to the Hammer Series. There are a huge amount of cycling enthusiasts who normally don't get the chance to watch the WorldTour peloton from close by. It's another great step to further grow and globalise our sport, and I am curious to see how people on different continents watch and experience cycling. I'm looking forward to some exciting racing,” says Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin.
Legend of Belgian cycling Philippe Gilbert is going all out for victory. "Our team is sitting second on the Hammer Series leader board, and we can expect a good fight for the overall victory, so we have a lot of motivation for this last event in the Hammer Series this year.”
Meanwhile, Italian rider Matteo Trentin with Australian team Mitchelton-SCOTT, the current European road race champion, is also looking forward to the race. “I’m excited to make my Hammer Series debut at the final in Hong Kong next month; it’s like being called up to play in the Grand Final. From everything the guys have told me about the format I’m in for an intense two races, but we’re at the top of the leader board after the first two rounds, and we are motivated to stay there to take the series title."
Vantage points to view the race
Both Bartlett and Wong encourage anyone interested in sport or cycling to go and see how the top professionals ride and cheer on their teams.
“The Hong Kong route will be a very fast circuit, super tight with turns, and very flat. It will be the fastest race among the Hammer Series, and we are looking for a race that will be faster than the world championship race. When these guys are on the flat, they can reach an average speed of 55 to 60km per hour,” says Bartlett. “The best vantage points to watch the high adrenaline race are along Mody Road near The Urban Council Centenary Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui and Salisbury Road near the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade.
As a former world champion rider, Wong adds his tips. “During the Sprint, riders will ride at the highest speed when they cross the finish of each lap to score points. They could reach over 70 km per hour at this point, making the start/finish the ideal place to watch the race. For the Chase, the turning points are where riders need to demonstrate the highest skills when they negotiate the turns. They may only need to slow down to 40 or 45km per hour, so these turning points offer fantastic viewing of the dynamic team time trial race.”
Special transport and traffic arrangements
Road closures will be implemented from 1am to 6pm in areas including Lantau Island, New Territories South, Kwai Tsing, Kowloon West and Tsim Sha Tsui on October 14. However, the closures will not affect traffic to the airport. The Tsing Ma Bridge Upper Deck (Kowloon bound) will be re-opened at 7:15am. Majority of the affected roads, except those in TST and TST East, will be re-opened at 11am. All affected roads will be re-opened at 6pm. Details of the special traffic and transport arrangements are available on the website of the Transport Department (www.td.gov.hk). For details of this year’s Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon, please refer to HKTB website (www.DiscoverHongKong.com/cyclothon).