Bora-Hansgrohe came under fire for leaving Sam Bennett out of their 2019 Giro d’Italia roster after he won three stages in 2018, but Pascal Ackermann immediately eased that pressure with a win on stage two.
The German champion in his first Grand Tour won the first stage possible, beating established sprinters Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).
“For sure you have the pressure but I was hoping or I was just thinking that I would not have pressure but I’m just happy that it’s gone now and I have the stage win,” Ackermann told Cycling Weekly.
Bennett could be sending the 25-year-old message of congratulations soon.
“We always send messages to each other and we have respect for each other,” Ackermann said.
“I think it was a team decision that I come here and he did all the stage races before. I hope he finds a solution for the next years.”
Bennett may look to switch teams in 2020 as his contract is coming to an end. He has been with the team since 2014 as it evolved from NetApp-Endura.
“We know and that also breaks my heart a bit to leave someone at home who was only want to beat Viviani last year and won three times but Pascal has one of the new riders of the new generation and we also to give him the possibility,” sports director Jens Zemke said.
“We know that the Tour de France was with Peter and the second biggest one for the sprinters is the Giro d’Italia, and so that was a hard decision from the management but the sports directors work with the riders we have here and try to motivate them to make everything as perfect as possible.”
Bennett this season has been able to win two stages in Paris-Nice, however may not race a Grand Tour at all in 2019. The Tour de France will also not be possible with the team planning on backing Peter Sagan.
The decision was seen as one where the team backed its home rider. Bora-Hansgrohe counts several international riders, but is a German team with its home office in Germany.
Zemke added: “Was there pressure for Pascal to win? Yes. But I think it was a positive pressure!”
Ackermann is hoping to match Bennett’s haul of three wins in 2018.
“I’m hoping for three stage wins because I bet with my coach and the manager Ralph Denk,” Ackermann added.
“It’s my first Grand Tour and all the guys think I’ve already did some but this is still my first one. I have been able to win on my first chance and I’m just happy to do so.
“It’s not bad because of the best sprinters are here but maybe Dylan Groenewegen so I’m just happy to win.
“You never know what happens but I was really strong in my head because I showed that I was in good shape in Eschborn-Frankfurt. Now just hope that I can continue like this and finish with my first Grand Tour with more wins.”