Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) has won the traditional race Eschborn-Frankfurt, the first German national champion to do so ten years after Fabian Wegmann. The sprinter won the sprint of the German classic after 187.5 kilometers at the Alten Oper in Frankfurt ahead of local star John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and four-time winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).
“Right now I have unbelievable amount of fun in cycling. I think you can see that. But my teammates help me with my self-confidence. We prefer riding the races in the front and showing our presence. That motivates me for the finale. Actually, the sprint was too early for me, but Kristoff passed me from behind and gave me the perfect lead-in. The others had problems on the climbs but I felt good. So I thought I would just do my thing and didn't look at the others. And I knew from the last weeks and my training that my form was very good,” said winner Ackermann at the finish after 4:23.36 hours racing. The last winner in Frankfurt in the German national champions jersey was Fabian Wegmann, 2009. For Ackermann the win also signaled a successful test for his debut in the Giro d'Italia on May 11.
“Underway I had a few problems on the climbs, my teammates had to bring me back to the main group twice. I didn't have the best legs and in the final laps in Frankfurt I had cramps, so that I didn't have the best feelings in the sprint. But I still made it on to the podium, so I am satisfied. I didn't have any chance against the other guys on the podium. I will be back next year and try to win again,” said Kristoff. The defeated Norwegian had won the German classic four times in a row. No rider in the history of cycing has ever won the same classic five times in a row.
Degenkolb, the last German to win the race, in 2011, said, “Too bad that it was not enough for the win – that is of course a bit depressing. I am happy for Pascal, that he won our hometown race. That counts for something. It is a big deal to take this win home, especially because it is a WorldTour race. I tried to keep within striking distance but out of the wind. I have nothing to blame myself for. After we drove through Eschborn I had cramps. I really had to fight, but my will was strong. That is what counts and what brought me the second place.” The 30-year-old lives in Oberursel right along the course and therefore had a lot of support along the way. “This race is something very special. I saw a lot of familiar faces, people who supported me with Dege signs or something painted on the road.”
After the start in Eschborn, the German classic with the star-studded peloton of 22 teams, including 12 from the WorldTour, set off on the Taunus circuit with topographical difficulties like the Mammolshainer Stich, the Ruppertshainer climb and the Billathöhe. The pros covered 3,200 climbing meters on the hilly circuit with eight ranked climbs. The closing circuit was ridden twice.
Early in the race an eight-rider break group formed with Yoann Offredo (Wanty- Groupe Gobert), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb), Dimitri Peyskens (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Sebastian Schönberger (Neri Sottolli), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Mathias van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen) and Artyom Zakharov (Astana Pro Team). The last of that group, along with the winner of the Deutschland Tour, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), were caught by the field in the last lap through Frankfurt.
Bora-Hansgrohe had made a big investment in the chase work. The field remained together over the cimbs
so that it came to a bunch sprint in the end – with the perfect result for the German team from Raublingen.