Knee bloodied and ego perhaps a little bruised, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) ambled onto the Giro d'Italia podium after his late crash during stage 10 at the Giro d'Italia to accept the maglia ciclamino as race's best sprinter, despite hitting the deck hard under the 1km to go banner as rival Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) went on to take the stage win.
To add insult to injury for the German sprinter who won stages 2 and 5 on his way to claiming the jersey, Demare used his post-race press conference to criticise Ackermann for what the Frenchman described as "excessive confidence and a bit of arrogance" for words they exchanged after one of the stage's intermediate sprints.
It was a losing day in the saddle that ended abruptly for Ackermann, who crossed the finish line in a small group, his jersey and shorts shredded from the melee that ensued as teams set up to launch their fastmen.
“I recovered on the first rest day and had good legs again," Ackermann said in a statement released by his team. "We wanted to play a bit of poker on the stage, so that more pressure would be on the other sprinter teams.
"During the last 5km, we came to the front," he said. "At the 1,000 metres to go mark, everything went by so fast, so I don’t really know what happened, and I could not react in time. The crash was heavy, and I sustained a few abrasions and contusions, but thankfully I can continue to ride. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but these are the demands of a Grand Tour, and you just have to take such setbacks as they come.”
A group of about 20 riders, including Bora-Hansgrohe lead-out man Rudi Selig, continued to sprint toward the line after the crash, with Demare winning ahead of Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Selig.
"At the 1km mark it got quite tight, and I had to brake," Selig recalled. "I heard the crash and turned around, where I saw that [Ackermann] was on the ground. I wasn’t quite sure if I should stop or ride on. I then tried for the sprint, but it’s tough to get a result against Demare or Viviani. I can’t really be so happy because Pascal was in good form. It’s annoying, but it can happen.”
Team director Christian Poemer said the Bora-Hansgrohe were "in shock" after Ackermann's heavy crash.
"It was a pity that Pascal wasn’t able to take part in the sprint for the win, as he also lost valuable points in the battle for the maglia ciclamino," Poemer said. "Congratulations to Rudi Selig, our lead-out man who was able to take out third place. That was a strong performance."
Ackermann now leads the sprint classification by just one point over Demare, 155 to 154, while Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) is third at 109 as the race heads for the mountains.