Hammond's rise continues

Soon to join Lance Armstrong and co at Discovery, Roger Hammond's seventh place in the Olympic RR un

Soon to join Lance Armstrong and co at Discovery, Roger Hammond's seventh place in the Olympic RR un
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Roger Hammond of Team GB - soon to be with Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel - had every reason to be pleased with his seventh place in Saturday's men's Olympic road race, ahead of more illustrious names such as Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton. The 30 year old from Gerrards Cross, riding in his first Olympics, was the only rider from the four-man British team to survive the furnace conditions that saw more than half the field drop out. "I blocked out the heat until after the finish, but me and my room-mate Charly Wegelius were up until two in the morning afterwards trying to cool down," Hammond said on Sunday. "I felt faint, my head was throbbing and I kept sweating." While British cycling continues to gnash its teeth over the traumatic loss of David Millar, Hammond's Olympic result was the culmination of an excellent season. He was third in last April's gruelling Paris-Roubaix classic, won June's British national road race championship and has recently signed for Armstrong's new sponsor for 2005. Now living in the suburbs of Brussels, in Tervuren, Hammond does not expect to automatically ride next summer's Tour de France - "They signed me for the Classics and one of the big three Tours and my programme depends on what Lance decides to do" - but he seems sure to further develop his burgeoning reputation as a one-day rider in next year's Spring Classics. "I was really pleased with the result in Athens," he said. "I'm not the best person in the heat - acclimatising in Belgium didn't really help. But I couldn't have asked for more this year. It's been a long slog for me, but I've been protected from the nasty side of cycling by riding for smaller teams. Bigger teams are under a lot of pressure to get involved with drugs." Hammond will expect to be a key part of Discovery's one-day team, but with the looming Pro Tour making big demands of the leading teams and their pool of riders, he seems sure to get his own opportunities through the 2005 season.
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