Cycling: Hammond hangs on for third

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Roger Hammond secured Britain's best result in a major Classic in 33 years when he stormed to third place in the Paris-Roubaix World Cup.

Roger Hammond secured Britain's best result in a major Classic in 33 years when he stormed to third place in the Paris-Roubaix World Cup.

Riding in his national champion's jersey for the Belgian team Mr Bookmaker, Hammond, 30, was part of a five-man break that took off close to the final section of the gruelling 261 kilometre event.

When the Belgian Classics specialist, Johan Museeuw, punctured close to the finish, the four others continued to collaborate over the last of the 26 decisive cobbled sections that regularly shatter the peloton in the race known as "The Hell of the North".

Hammond made a last-gasp attempt to take the event in the Roubaix velodrome in a sprint for the line, but was beaten by the Swede Magnus Backstedt and the Dutchman Tristan Hoffman.

"A sprint is never the same after such a long event," said Hammond, who had taken sixth place in another leading one-day race, Ghent-Wevelgem in Belgium, on Wednesday. "And although I feel a bit disappointed, getting on to the podium of an event like this is a real acheivement in itself."

Hammond's success is still remarkable, given that only one Briton, Barry Hoban in 1972, has come so close, when he also took third at Roubaix. It is Britain's best result in the event since Sean Yates took fifth in 1994.

Although the Cofidis affair, which threatens to engulf their team leader, David Millar, meant that the Scot was forced to miss the weekend's Manchester leg of the track World Cup, victory in the men's team sprint final yesterday earned Britain's fourth gold medal of the meet, making up somewhat for Millar's absence.

The British trio of Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean and Jamie Staff pipped the Dutch team in the final, and the result also meant that MacLean, who led off, won his second gold of the weekend following his success in the time-trial on Friday. The result augurs well for the Olympics, with the Sydney gold medallist Jason Queally, who rode confidently in the qualifying round, making up a four-man squad as good as any in the world.

There was some British disappointment when Victoria Pendleton, who won gold in the individual sprint on Friday and bronze in the time-trial on Saturday, missed out on the medals in the scratch race.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly

Comments