Bora-Hansgrohe's Pascal Ackermann sprinted to the cyclamen-coloured points jersey at this year's Giro d'Italia, taking two stage victories along the way and becoming the first German rider to win the prestigious prize.
The 25-year-old did it aboard a Specialized Venge, and was presented with a custom-painted version of his team's bike, sporting a split design that makes one side of the bike look completely different to the other, ahead of stage 19 of the race on Friday, which he also used on Saturday's stage before having to resort to a TT bike for Sunday's final time trial on Sunday.
"I wanted the design for this bike to have two completely different looks depending on which side you stand on," explained Specialized graphic designer Kayla Clarot of Ackermann's split-design Venge.
"One side is grittier, with a collage of abstracted black and white photos of Italy that represent the scenery of the race. The other side is a simple fade, but full of sparkle and colour," said Clarot. "The juxtaposition of the two represents the fight the athletes go through trying to get the jersey, with one side representing the tough battle through different terrain, and the other side representing the simple, but beautiful, moment of taking the lead."
Ackermann took two early stage wins at this year's Giro to hold the points jersey, but rival sprinter Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) took the lead in the competition from Ackermann on stage 11, and then kept it until stage 18, when Ackermann was surprised to be able take the jersey back from the shoulders of Demare.
Ackermann finished second on the stage to Santa Maria di Sala, having been unable to catch the remaining member of the day's breakaway, Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane), on the line. However, Demare's unexpectedly distant eighth place meant that the German road race champion re-took the points jersey lead – with 226 points to the Frenchman's 213 – which was how the competition finished on Sunday, with neither rider having been able to add to their tally at the intermediate sprints on Friday and Saturday's mountain stages.
"Initially I felt like the underdog, but now we can see what I can achieve," a delighted Ackermann said on his team's website.
"I'm just happy to be part of this team. I have a lot of friends here and they all did an amazing job on all the stages, be it on the flat or in the mountains. They always motivated me out on the road, and also outside of competition. Everybody worked very hard to get these results and I have to really thank them for all their support.
"I really wanted to participate in the Giro, and, when I was selected, the confidence that the team placed in me gave me additional motivation to try even harder to achieve more. In the end we did an amazing job and my thanks goes to everyone on this team," he said.
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