In what were horrid conditions, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) sprinted to a deserved victory on the Mall as the RideLondon-Surrey Classic served up another entertaining affair, just as the women provided in the RideLondon Classique on Saturday.
The German national champion came out on top as he got the better of Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).
With the event falling on the same day as the final stage of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, few expected the array of sprint talent that took to the line at the start of the day.
The likes of Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) were present as they looked to forget about their disappointments in the Tour. But Cavendish’s form still eludes him as he finished off the pace, as did Greipel.
Despite getting into the early break, Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), who was tipped to be one of the favourites before the race started, failed to last the day as he abandoned with just over 70km to go.
How it happened
With 187km on the cards, the first breakaway didn’t take long to form after the neutralised zone as a mixture of Pro Continental and WorldTour level riders went up the road.
Out of the six riders in the breakaway it was a surprise to see Ewan involved considering the Aussie was one of the pre-race favourites for a sprint finish.
But as the leading group approached the first king of the mountains climb on Staple Lane, the 24 year-old dropped back to the peloton, leaving Aaron Verwilst (SportVI – Baloise), Pawel Cielslik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Manuele Boaro and Agnoli Valerio of Bahrain-Merida to continue to build on their 4-23 advantage with less than 120km remaining.
Heading into the final 90km the peloton and in particular Bora-Hansgrohe at the front began to push the pace as they looked to reel in the breakaway.
On the second ascent of Ranmore Common there was activity at the front of the peloton as a group of six which included Peter Kennaugh (Bora Hansgrohe), Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe), Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott), Owain Doull (Team Sky), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) went clear and joined up with the lead group with 70km to go.
As the breakaway began the ascent of Box Hill, the peloton were only 54 seconds behind as the race began to hot up. In the front group there was a crash which affected Kennaugh and Matthews. But back in the peloton the pace was upped as the sprint teams looked to reel in the break as attention turned towards the final run-in towards the Mall.
With 36km left the breakaway’s slender advantage of 29 secondss was decreasing with each pedal stroke as all signs pointed to the sprint finish which many expected at the start of the day.
With the peloton looming behind with 11km remaining, Doull launched one last effort on Wimbledon Hill in a bid to stay away. But it didn’t last for long as they swept up the Sky rider and the last remnants of the break and begun the process of preparing for the expected sprint finish on the Mall.
As the peloton hit the last turn heading into the finishing straight it was Ackermann who timed his sprint to perfection to take a big victory ahead of some top name sprinters.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, 187km
1.Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, 4-20-11
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quickstep, at 1 sec
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
4. Ivan Garcia (Esp) Bahrain Merida
5. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team-Emirates
6. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
7. Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC
8. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
9. Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkawice
10. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, all at same time