Video: Under-pressure Ackermann’s relief palpable after Giro win

Posted on: May 12th, 2019
Pascal Ackermann has to fill Sam Bennett’s boots on the Giro and has gotten off to a great start with a victory on stage 2 in a sprint finish

Having started the Giro as the Bora-hansgrohe sprinter in place of Sam Bennett, there was considerable pressure on the shoulders of Pascal Ackermann today.

However, though he is riding his first Grand Tour and today’s stage 2, into Fucecchio after 205km, was his first chance to win, he took it with both hands.

The 25-year-old German national champion cut an elated and emotional figure at the finish; stunned and relived to have won.

He hasn’t matched Bennett’s three wins of last year, not yet anyway. But his victory today takes a considerable amount of pressure off.

He also claimed the win from Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ); something he can take great encouragement from.

Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos) finished in 99th place at five seconds. Irish champion Conor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) was 166th at 12:59.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) retained the race lead he claimed on yesterday’s opening TT and still has 19 and 23 seconds over Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

“I’m just being so happy. It was my first chance to win a stage and we did it straight,” Ackermann said of converting to victory his first ever chance into a Grand Tour.

“And I think now that all the team is more and more motivated and it’s good for the next three weeks.

“We saw with 250 to go that no sprinters had started the sprint. And I just decided, ‘OK, now I have to take my speed and go full gas and luckily it was enough.”

Asked if he felt pressure having to take over team sprint duties from Sam Bennett, who won three stages last year, the relief was palpable in Ackermann’s reply.

“For sure it was a big pressure, but you also have to know it’s my first Grand Tour and you never know what will happen in a first Grand Tour. I’m just happy to have won my first stage.

“I’m incredibly happy to have won here. Even though I meet my competitors like Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani at other races, it is special to have taken the win here at the Giro.

“Of course there is more pressure to win at a Grand Tour and that is why I am so happy. It was my first chance for a win and we accomplished our goal.

“It is also very special to me to have won wearing the German championship jersey.”

Roglic retained the race leader’s pink jersey after a sprint settle Giro 2019’s stage 2.

Bora-hansgrohe sports director Jens Zemke said Ackermann was continuing the legacy the team had started at the Giro over the past couple of years, including with Sam Bennett.

“This is a good start to the Giro. Two years ago we took that memorable stage with Lukas Pöstlberger and then last year Sam Bennett won multiple stages,” he said.

“And now this year, we’ve notched up Pascal’s first Grand Tour victory. It is a well deserved win. The team rode in the front the whole time.

“(We) controlled the breakaway well and did a great lead out. We are all super happy about this fantastic result.”