August 6, 2018
Ackermann takes rain-swept Ride London Classic
Weeks of blue skies and high temperatures were replaced by grey clouds and rain for a hard fought London Classic and it was Bora Handgrohe's Pascal Ackermann who emerged from the gloom to take the bunch sprint.
The reigning German road race champion who had crashed during the race edged out Quickstep's Elia Viviani, with Giacomo Nizzolo taking third spot for Trek-Segafredo.
“It is a really important victory for me because all the world’s good sprinters were here,” said Ackermann. “It was important for me to show what I can do. It’s my first victory since winning the German championships and I was really proud to win wearing the national jersey."
Viviani was sanguine about his second place, “This is my first day back after a period of rest and a good month at altitude, so I’m in good shape,” said the 29-year-old. “I’d have liked to win but today Ackermann was faster.
“It was a really tough day because the wet conditions made the race harder for sure, but staying with the team, we got there. We tried to win and raced to the line but Ackermann was just one bike length in front.”
The dfay's amin action begain with a breakaway of seix who made their escape as the race passed through East Sheen and raced into Richmond Park, the half-dozen chancers including Caleb Ewan, one of the world’s top sprinters who might have been expected to keep his powder dry for the finish.
The Australian Mitchelton-Scott rider was joined by Manuele Boaro and Valerio Agnoli of Bahrain-Merida, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise rider Aaron Verwilst, Pawel Piotr Cieslik of CCC Sprandi Polkowice, and Alexis Gougeard of AG2R La Mondiale.
Verwilst took the first sprint points as they cruised into Surrey, with Gougeard second and Agnoli third, while the six worked together to open a gap that grew to more than seven minutes by the time they hit Walton-on-Thames, the peloton content to let them have their moment in the drizzle.
Early breaks have a habit of being sweept up and by the time they reach the Surrey climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill this was proving to be no different, as the pack rsteadily eeled them in down the narrow country lanes, Ackermann’s Bora-Hansgrohe team doing the bulk of the work.
By now rising wind was playing havoc in the trees above their heads, with some fallen branches playing havoc on the road, forcing the chasing pack to watch its line.
Th seemingly inevitable catch was forstalled by when a small group attacked the peloton on the second pass of Ranmore Common and bridged over to the leaders. Amongst them were Bora's Peter Kennaugh, Sunweb’s Michael Matthews and Team Sky’s Owain Doull . Despite steadily shedding members the rejuventated break kept the pack at bay until 6.5km to go as the rave streamed along the Thames Embankment at Millbank.
“My team did an amazing job today because I crashed in the middle of the race and they had to get me back to the peloton,” said Ackermann. who had to borrow a teammates' bike, to chase back on.
“I had to reward them for that and thankfully I could do it. “I knew I was in good shape and told my team to get me in a good position. They were 100 per cent behind me and I’m so proud of what they did to give me a chance. “I wasn’t watching Viviani, I just kept my eyes on the Finish Line and went for the win.”