NANNING, China (VN) — Pascal Ackermann already smiles often but has even more reason to do so as the 2019 season comes to a close. After a successful year, ending in the Tour of Guangxi, he has cemented his place in the powerful Bora-Hansgrohe team.
Peter Sagan stands above the rest in the team, which made the jump to the WorldTour when he joined in 2017. But it is more than one dimensional with home-grown talents like grand tour rider Emanuel Buchmann, fourth in the 2019 Tour de France, Irish sprinter Sam Bennett, and of course, Ackermann.
Ackermann in his first grand tour this spring won two stages and the overall points jersey in the Giro d’Italia. Those wins added to his tally of 12 season victories. It gives him reason to smile more.
“I did a big big step this year, and now we are one of the best sprinters in the world,” the 25-year-old told VeloNews. “Now we have to train more this winter to stay on this level and then we’ll see what’s going on next year.
“I think since those victories in the Giro, I’m really self-confident. Now, OK [I know] that if I really work, I can win some races.”
Ackermann just won the 12th victory Saturday, taking stage three of the Tour Guangxi in Nanning. The sprint field includes Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).
“My shape was really good in the races before and I was disappointed to get all those second places in the last weeks,” he added. “It was really important to get another victory for the end of the season.”
Team boss Ralph Denk must manage the team well in 2020. In the coming weeks, he will meet with his staff and riders to make plans.
In 2019, he split his three sprinters among the three grand tours. Sagan went to the Tour, Ackermann debuted in the Giro and Bennett had the Vuelta a España.
Bennett won two stages in the Vuelta but he had been disappointed to be left off the Giro team for a then still unproven Ackermann after he had won three stages in the 2018 edition. He is ready to leave the team for Deceuninck-Quick Step but must wait for a Bora paperwork dispute to be settled.
“I think it’s good to have Sam in the team because he’s a really strong sprinter,” said Ackermann. “I don’t know if it’s better to have him in the team then to ride against him!
“This year, we shared all the races and you can see that Sam had 12 or 13 victories, me 12, and we had a good year in the team. It was OK.”
If Bennett leaves then Ackermann must carry the load as the team’s top sprinter while Sagan remains a sprint/classics star.
“I can handle the pressure well. It hasn’t been a problem so far and I hope it stays like this.”
Procyclingstats has much of Ackermann’s 2020 schedule online, which includes the Tour de France, but he says that it is not correct because he still has yet to confirm his plans with Denk.
Regardless, his plan is to race one of the three grand tours for more stage wins and the classics, with his dream win being Milano-Sanremo.