Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) defended his Clásica de Almería title on Sunday, outpacing Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) in the dash to the line in Roquetas de Mar.
The German becomes just the second rider to win the race twice, following in the wheel tracks of Massimo Strazzer, who won in 1997 and 2002.
Ackermann jumped from the wheel of Viviani's lead-out man Fabio Sabatini to launch his sprint. Kristoff wasn't far behind and looked to be closing in fast, but Ackermann had enough to hold off his competition to secure victory.
"I'm really really happy. I started the season with a victory here last year and I'm really happy again," said Ackermann after the finish.
"It's now the third race I'm really going for the victory. Now I've won finally, and the team did amazing today – they gave 100% and I want to thank them for this.
"I was really nervous because of the wind. Everyone was expecting some crosswind, we tried several times to make a split but the wind wasn't strong enough. It was a tough race today.
"I just said 'OK, now I have to go because we did a little mistake'. But in the end, I got behind another lead-out guy and that was ideal.
How it unfolded
The Clásica de Almería, the second ProSeries one-day race of the season after Trofeo Laigueglia earlier on Sunday, took in 188km along the Alboran coast in the south of Spain, starting and finishing in Roquetas de Mar.
With a flat finish after a hilly start, the race is usually one for the sprinters, reflected in the start list with the likes of Ackermann, Viviani, Kristoff, Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott lining up.
The break of the day formed quickly, after just 12km. Joan Bou (Fundación-Orbea), Ricardo Vilela (Burgos-BH), Sergio Roman Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Rasmus Quaade (Riwal Readynez) and Daniel Viegas (Kometa Xstra) got out front and quickly built a two-minute gap by the first intermediate sprint.
Viegas led the way to pick up three points and would do the same on two of the remaining three sprint points to clinch the sprint prize for the day. Back in the peloton, Cofidis put in work on behalf of their new sprinter Viviani.
Bou was first over the first two climbs of the day, the second-category Alto Aljibe de la Cruz and the third-category Alto de la Alquera, to grab ten KOM points. The quintet's lead, meanwhile, fluctuated between two and three minutes as Cofidis, UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe commanded the peloton.
Bou, a new signing for Fundación-Orbea after Vini Fantini folded, saw that the prize was definitively his on the Alto de Fuente Marbella after 88km. With a largely flat run-in over the final 75km, the break didn't stand a great chance of staying away, and so it proved as the gap evaporated on the run to the day's final climb.
There, Bou picked up another three points, but the peloton was only a dozen seconds in arrears, and the break's adventure was soon over with 50km still to race.
A handful of kilometres later, a crash in the peloton saw a number of riders hit the deck, with Erik Fetter (Kometa Xstra) and Arvid De Klein (Riwal Readynez) forced to abandon.
The remainder of the run-in, however, was fairly standard sprint fare, with Israel Start-Up Nation, Mitchelton-Scott, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, and AG2R La Mondiale among the teams making pace at the head of the peloton.
A mix of lead-out men came to the front in the final kilometre, with Bora-Hansgrohe and Mitchelton-Scott pulling off slightly early. Sabatini stuck it out though, inadvertently providing a near-perfect platform for Ackermann to launch for his first win of 2020.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||4:24:04|
|2||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|3||Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis|
|4||Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert|
|5||Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott|
|6||Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|7||Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|8||Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation|
|9||Juan José Lobato (Spa) Fundación-Orbea|
|10||Thomas Boudat (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic|
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