Vitoria (dpa) – Pascal Ackermann knew before the start of the Vuelta what a great ride awaits him in Spain. “I’ve never ridden so many mountains in my life,” said the 26-year-old top sprinter of the Bora-hansgrohe team.
The extremely demanding terrain and the numerous stages in the high mountains make the Ackermann particularly difficult, especially on the plains. But “Ackes” has to endure all the climbing pain, because he hopes to ride some flat stages on Monday after the rest day.
“We have four sprint stages. We can therefore assume that we will have four chances and we have to use them”, emphasizes Ackermann. Bad luck for Germany’s greatest hope for victory in Spain is that the planned mass arrivals are spread over the entire three weeks, with the last not scheduled for Madrid until the end of November 8. That was different at the Giro 2019, where Ackermann won two stages early on and was able to ride through the Italian high mountains with newly acquired confidence.
For this, Ackermann got four helpers this time from his Bavarian racing team Bora-hansgrohe, who not only start the sprint for him on flat terrain, but also make the pain of numerous mountain passes more bearable for him. ‘We always have to get away with it, no matter how difficult it gets. That is why I am very happy that you are all here, ‘said the German. With rain, wind and cold weather, the first week was a taste of what the field can expect on this Vuelta.
Ackermann’s team principal Ralph Denk has a lot of faith in his protégé. “We hope he wins a stage. We would be very happy. I see the biggest competition from his former teammate Sam Bennett,” said Denk of the German news agency before the start of the Vuelta. In fact, the Irishman Bennett seized the first opportunity to sprint and already won a stage, Ackermann finished fourth.
After Ackermann’s Giro debut in 2019 and his Vuelta premiere in Corona year 2020, it is clear what will follow in the upcoming cycling season. For the first time, the sprinter wants to win stages in the Tour de France and also in the world’s largest cycling race. Team boss Denk has promised the sprinter that he will participate in the tour once during his contract period up to and including 2021, thus making a big childhood dream come true for him.
Last December, Bora announced that Ackermann would ride the more suitable Giro and Vuelta tours in 2020 instead of the difficult tour. Now all three races have been postponed due to the corona and the Vuelta is a lot more difficult than planned due to the departure of the stages in the Netherlands. In addition to the victory hunt of the day in Spain, Ackermann expects another important date this week: the publication of the tour route for 2021. The man from Palatinate hopes that the organizers have built enough flat stages in the route.