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Tirreno-Adriatico stage 1: Pascal Ackermann steals the win from a big bunch sprint

GC riders keeping their powder dry for the mountains while the sprinters did battle on day one of Giro d'Italia warm-up.

In the first stage of the Race of Two Seas, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the win from a big bunch dash to the line, avoiding a crash inside of 1,500 meters to go.

The German sprinter stole the victory with a bike throw in what looked to be a sure win for Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).

“I can say I’m really happy to have finally won,” Ackermann told reporters. “My shape was good but we never found the right timing. Thanks to my teammates because they really trusted me. I was sick all week and was only one time on the bike in the past six days. I’m really happy about my sprint – I have to see it again because it felt amazing. Especially with the position I came from. I just found the right gap on the right side, it wasn’t that big, but it was enough.”

In the final 2km, Ineos Grenadiers and EF Pro Cycling went to to the front and ratcheted up the speed, but a touch of wheels resulted in a crash near the front and disrupted these teams.

An early break of seven riders launched in the first lap of the circuit but fractured on the second descent of the Pitoro.

Tirreno Adriatico Stage 1
Tirreno Adriatico Stage 1

Bora-Hansgrohe, Sunweb, Deceuninck-QuickStep, and UAE Team Emirates upped the pace and brought the break back to set up Ackermann, Michael Matthews, Davide Ballerini and Gaviria respectively in the later laps.

Matthieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) looked to be at the front of the mix, briefly, but the crash in the final two kilometers thwarted his attempts to be at the front at the end of the day.

While the 2020 Tour de France is on its first rest day, those not racing there are keeping their legs sharp for the coming UCI road world championships, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España at this eight-day stage race.

This year’s race, September 7 – 14, is a battle which pits grand tour winners like Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas (both Team Ineos Grenadiers), and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) against one-day specialists like Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

Thomas finished 10 seconds back of Ackermann, while Froome was 64 seconds back, however, the entire bunch was awarded the same time.

Stage 2 is a 201km route from Lido di Camaiore to Follonica, and also one that favors sprinters.