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Pascal Ackermann. Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo...

Ackermann snags first win of 2020

German sprinter kick-starts season with victory in Spain over Kristoff and Viviani.

Pascal Ackerman (Bora-Hansgrohe) opened up his 2020 account with a sprint victory Sunday at the Spanish one-day Clásica de Almeria.

The German nipped Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Emirates) at the line, with Elia Viviani (Cofidis) crossing the line third. The victory is the first for Ackermann in 2020, after finishing second twice at the Mallorca Challenge.

“I finished second two times at races in Spain this year, so it was nice to finally cross the line first,” Ackermann said. “It was a tough race due to the wind but my teammates did an amazing job, putting in 100 percent for me, and I’d really like to thank them.”

Ackermann enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, winning 13 races, including two stages at the Giro d’Italia. He opened the season last year with victory at Almeria as well, and he heads next to the UAE Tour.

The race closes out a block of weekend racing in Spain. Luis León Sánchez (Astana) won the final stage at the two-day Tour of Murcia on Saturday, with Xando Meurisse (Circus-Wanty) taking the overall after winning Friday’s stage in a breakaway.

Racing continues across the Iberian peninsula next week with the Ruta del Sol in Spain, and the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, held simultaneously February 19-23.

Several big names are using the races to make their season debuts, with Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) racing in Portugal for the first time on the road in 2020. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) debut in Spain, with Enric Mas and Marc Soler (Movistar), Brandon McNulty (UAE-Emirates), and Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) among other starters.