Hammond frustrated despite seventh in Flanders, can aim for Roubaix
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Hammond frustrated despite seventh in Flanders, can aim for Roubaix

by Conal Andrews at 9:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

British one-day Classic specialist Roger Hammond went into yesterday’s Tour of Flanders aiming to help Thor Hushovd in the race but with the big Norwegian coming up short due to illness and a lack of racing, the Briton was given free rein.

He justified that chance, netting a fine seventh in the race. However Hammond was not happy afterwards, feeling that things could have gone better had things played out a little differently.

"Not a bad result but I'm a little frustrated with it," he said, “because it actually meant I wasn't really racing for the podium. I felt that third place was an option today. And in hindsight if someone said I'd be riding top ten today, I would be happy with it. I'm happy with it but when you know you've made a mistake in the race it's a little bit frustrating.

“Thor Hushovd) (Nor) had some sort of illness and as he was having a problem he told me to ride my own race. I then started riding a little bit more aggressively.”

The race went to Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who dropped Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and finished well clear. Philippe Gilbert and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) fought it out for third place, with the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider easily taking the sprint.

Hammond feels that he should have been with these two, scrapping it out with Gilbert for that third step on the podium.

“I just hesitated one time when Gilbert went for it. They went twice, I went with them both times and the third time I'm thinking, ‘well, they've gone twice,’ and typically the third time they went. Then I went with Lance (Armstrong) on the Muur and we were chasing them across several climbs. They cost me a lot of effort.

“All I had to do was 100 metres to the attack and I would have been with them. Then I would have been racing for the podium rather then chasing after the race for who knows how many kilometres. In the final I felt really strong but sprints are always chaotic, I did my best."

Hammond is clearly in good form and has the consolation of knowing that he is in the right condition heading into a race that should suit him even better than Flanders. He’s a former junior world cyclo-cross champion and his bike handling skills will aid him greatly in next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix.

It’s a race that’s close to his heart, particularly after he finished third in 2004. He was fifteenth last year, having ridden for Thor Hushovd. Of course, Hammond may be required to work again for the Norwegian but, given the latter’s complicated spring, there is also the chance that he too will be given protected status.


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