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MODENA, Italy (VN) — Arnaud Démare chastised grand tour rookie Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) for being too cocky during this Giro d’Italia.
The Groupama-FDJ star won his first race of 2019 in a crash-marred finale Tuesday that saw Ackermann hit the ground, yet the Frenchman had sharp words for the flamboyant German sprinter who is making an impression during his grand tour debut.
Ackermann crashed heavily after clipping wheels in the final kilometer Tuesday and crossed the line with his jersey and bib shredded from the impact. But it’s something else that’s bothering Démare.
“Ackermann is very strong but he is also a bit arrogant,” Démare said. “He has a bit too much confidence in himself.”
Ackermann, 25, has been one of the sensations of this Giro, winning two stages in the first week and taking control of the points jersey. Evidently something about Ackermann has rubbed the Frenchman the wrong way.
“Ackermann is racing his first grand tour. I would be more humble in his position,” Démare said. “He has never raced a grand tour. He doesn’t know how he will go in the mountains. You need to stay calm and pay attention.”
Ackermann came blazing out of the first week, winning stages 2 and 5, and taking control of the points jersey.
According to the Frenchman, Ackermann approached Démare during Tuesday’s stage and asked him why he was challenging for the intermediate sprints. Démare had won the first intermediate sprint behind the day’s main breakaway at 98.4km, finishing ahead of Ackermann.
According to Démare, Ackermann offered that they should just save their energy for the final sprint victory in Modena and split the spoils between them.
It’s rare for a pro to call out a racing colleague, but Démare wasn’t shy about sharing it with journalists during a post-stage press conference.
“He should stay humble, especially in a grand tour, because they are very long,” Démare said. “And now he has paid for it, and I am just one point down.”
With his victory, Démare is indeed just one point behind Ackermann in the points jersey classification, with the German holding 155 points and Démare 154.
Démare insisted that he did not realize it was Ackermann who had crashed behind him during the run-in to the sprint in the final kilometer. Several other riders went down behind Ackermann, including Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale), Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) and Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo), among others.
“I did not see the crash but I had heard something on my left,” Démare said. “It was a day after the rest day and all the sprinters wanted to win, so I also knew there would be a big risk of a crash. As a result, we wanted to be at the front of the bunch.”
Unlike many of the other sprinters in this Giro, including Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani who are expected to leave the Giro following Wednesday’s final sprint stage, Démare said he intends to try to finish the Giro.
“We have another sprint tomorrow and perhaps one more in the final week,” Démare said. “We came here to win sprints. I would have liked to have won a stage earlier in this Giro, but now I have one victory, and it gives me confidence to try again. I will try to arrive to Verona, if I have the legs in the mountains.”
Ackermann also said he intends on trying to finish the Giro. In more ways than one it could be a fight for the points jersey all the way to the end.