Cycling: Hammond's attacking policy pays dividends

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The Independent Online

An unconventionally long-range attack by the Belgian-based professional Roger Hammond enabled him to open up a five-minute margin in the British national championships yesterday and cruise to a comfortable lone win.

Throwing caution to the wind, Hammond took off alone with 40 miles left to race, but his ambitious manoeuvre paid off, as the group of chasers shredded itself behind on the steep climb that dominated the circuit outside Newport.

"I was a bit reckless but I started riding like in Belgium, where normally when you get on the finishing circuit there's never too far left to go," said Hammond, who is the first UK rider ever to take the cyclo-cross title and road title in the same year.

As a professional, 29-year-old Hammond is something of a throwback, crossing the Channel six years ago in his mother's car and with £100 in his back pocket in search of a professional contract - a trend popular with British amateurs in the 1960s and 1970s but which has all but died out now.

In the women's event on Saturday, current World Cup leader, 20-year-old Nicole Cooke, added a fourth national road title to her already bulging palmares.

Of the other national mens' championships, Didier Rous' victory in France may raise a few hackles in the Tour de France organisation: with the centenary edition due to start this Saturday, amid the patriotic fervour it will doubtless induce, Rous - a former member of Festina, the team at the heart of the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour - will be guaranteed considerable attention thanks to his newly acquired tricolour maillot. For some, another rider with a less murky past might have been preferable.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly