BORA-hansgrohe ride bravely at EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg after late crash cruelly denies Pascal Ackermann.
On a day when the BORA-hansgrohe team did everything perfectly, a cruel twist of fate ended the team’s chances in the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg less than 2km before the finish line. The course in Hamburg was deceptively tough, with the Waseberg climb hitting gradients of up to 22% proving instrumental in thinning out the field each of its three passes on the course. On the final run to the finale, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were still there, having been instrumental in pushing the pace and reeling in the break, only for disaster to strike as the German National Champion, Pascal Ackermann, hit the ground as he was preparing for the bunch sprint. The courageous 24-year-old got back on his bike to finish the race, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, taking 10th to add to his lead in the UCI WorldTour standings.
Starting and finishing in Hamburg, the 216.4km route took riders on a figure of eight course, first towards the east before a long stretch back through Hamburg followed by a shorter loop back towards the city. The closing stages of the race would give fans a treat, with three laps of an 18km circuit giving spectators an excellent opportunity to watch the hardest part of the course, and of course, the finale. The terrain in northern Germany is fairly flat, which means the race is known as one for the sprinters, but this would by no means make for an easy race, with the finishing circuit taking in a climb of the Waseberg which, with an average gradient of 10% and sections hitting a painful 22% towards the top, would thin out the field – especially after climbing it three times over the course of the day.
The Team Tactics
The BORA-hansgrohe squad was on home turf today, and so the team would be taking every opportunity to impress the fans in Germany. Riding in the black, red and gold jersey of German National Champion, Pascal Ackermann, would take centre stage and the team would be working to make sure the 24-year-old was in a strong position for the finale. Currently heading the UCI Individual World Rankings, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would also be aiming to be up there at the finale to take some extra points to supplement his lead if the opportunity presented itself.
With a group of five off the front early on, this small breakaway managed to hold the peloton at bay with more than two minutes’ advantage. While each team represented in the break only had one rider, this escape worked together well, managing their lead as though the peloton were on a piece of elastic, drawing them close before extending their lead again. The break was making the peloton work hard, and with 64km remaining, the peloton split in two, the front group driving the pace to reduce the gap, leaving the second group to chase to stay in touch. The break’s lead dropped to 40 seconds in a few kilometres of concerted effort from the peloton, but with the lead group in touching distance with 55km to go, it looked as though the escapees would be reeled in on the first ascent of the Waseberg. Cresting the climb and making the most of the fast downhill section, that lead was extended again to 1:30. The peloton had other plans though, and wouldn’t be denied. In the final 30km, the BORA-hansgrohe jerseys were prominent at the head of the peloton, working to draw in the break. In their midst were the jerseys of German National Champion and the UCI World Champion, worn by Pascal Ackermann and Peter Sagan respectively, and with the gap dropping quickly, it was clear that the peloton was looking to take charge and push for the win, and even an attack late on the final climb of the Waseberg wasn’t going to put an end to the peloton’s ambitions. Hamburg’s city streets made for some fast-paced riding and high speeds, but a crash with less than 2km remaining saw Pascal go down, cruelly putting an end to his chances. As Peter Sagan crossed the line to take 10th spot, the German National Champion bravely remounted his bike to finish the race.
01 E.Viviani 4h46’02”
02 A.Démare +0:00
03 A.Kristoff +0:00
04 J.Degenkolb +0:00
10 P. Sagan +0:00
From the Finish Line
"The Cyclassics Hamburg was for me the first real race after the Tour de France. I felt quite a bit better today, I think I'm improving day by day but I still need some more time to recover in full. Up to the last kilometres, we had a good race, the team worked well but, unfortunately, Pascal's late crash disrupted our plans for the sprint. Viviani was the fastest and won the race while I was 10th. Time to turn my attention now to the next big goal, the Vuelta, a week from now." – Peter Sagan, UCI Wolrd Champion
"Of course I am disappointed now, but there is nothing more I can do about the crash. I lost some skin, but I am confident I can start at the Deutschland Tour next week. Until the crash happened, I had exceptionally good legs and was still fresh going into the final kilometres. The team did a great job and we controlled the race the whole day. Just before the crash I had caught Viviani's wheel and was in a perfect position, but I felt a blow from my left and then all of a sudden I found myself on the ground." - Pascal Ackermann
"It’s a pity that all the hard work didn‘t pay off today in the end. The team worked very well and everything was under control. We pulled hard in the finale to set up a bunch sprint and both Pascal and Peter were positioned really well. Unfortunately, Pascal then crashed and our whole lead out was affected by that. There isn't a lot more we can say, we tried hard, but you cannot win every day." – Jan Valach, Sports Director