Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Pascal Ackermann takes opening stage of UAE Tour 2020

German finishes ahead of Caleb Ewan at Dubai Silicon Oasis on Sunday

Germany's Pascal Ackermann celebrates winning the opening stage of the UAE Tour in on Sunday. AP
Germany's Pascal Ackermann celebrates winning the opening stage of the UAE Tour in on Sunday. AP

Pascal Ackermann took the opening day’s honours at the UAE Tour by clinching a thrilling victory at the Dubai Silicon Oasis on Sunday.

Bora–Hansgrohe's German rider clinched the 148-kilometre stage in three hours, 29 minutes and 19 seconds to lead the general classification ahead of Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal and Frenchman Rudy Barbier of Israel Start-Up Nation.

It was Ackermann's second win of 2020 after opening his account at the Clasica de Almeria last week in Spain.

“I'm super happy with this victory because almost all the top sprinters are here and I wasn't sure if my shape was good enough to beat them all,” the German said of his stage win in Dubai.

“Now I know that my shape is good and I can take it easy the next few days. It was a hectic sprint in which I was jumping from one guy's wheel to another one. I took my chance at the right time.

“Everyone was really strong. I surprised them by starting my sprint with 300 metres to go. It was a big surprise for the other sprinters that I went so early, but we did everything right.

“We spoke with my lead out man Rudi (Rudiger Selig). He asked me what trainer I wanted and I replied 'I just trust you'. So we were looking for each other, not the other sprinters.

“We tried something different today and it was good. Last year, the Giro d’Italia was the first big goal of my career.

“Winning the first sprint has been a big step. It gave me a lot of confidence. This year, we’ll try and win some sprints and we’ll have two possibilities for winning them with Peter [Sagan]. Maybe we can create some surprises. I’m looking forward to the Giro again.”

Dylan Groenwegen of Jumbo-Visma came up late to finish fourth while the UAE Team Emirates’ Fernando Gaviria could finish only 20th after getting boxed in with 200m to go.

“There was a bit of contact in the sprint which hampered me, but in a hectic finale that's to be expected,” Gaviria said of the incident.

“The main thing is no crashes and the legs are good for the next stages. I'm already looking to tomorrow which is a steep uphill that don’t really suits me, but I will try, along with the team, to give my best.”

Crowd favourite Chris Froome, the four-time winner of the Tour de France, returned to action for the first time in eight months after a career-threatening injury and finished safely in the pack.

The opening stage of the world tour race in the Middle East was on a flat route and flagged off at The Pointe.

Monday’s second stage of the race heads to Hatta.

Updated: February 23, 2020 07:45 PM

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