It was so close at the end of the 32nd Clásica de Almería, with KATUSHA-ALPECIN’s Marcel Kittel hard-charging the line to challenge for the win, but just missing by a tire width and having to settle for second place behind winner Pascal Ackermann of BORA-hansgrohe.
Marcel Kittel: “Pascal was very strong and did a super sprint. The finish line is a slight right turn and I had to go the longer way at the end. That was maybe the small difference. Of course, I always want to win, but I leave southern Spain with a good feeling. My shape is good. Today's race is a great motivation for more in the UAE Tour this coming week." Rounding out the podium was Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-Scott, all on the same time of 4:27:58 (43.1km/h).
The 192.5km one-day race started in Almería and ended with several laps of a circuit in Roquetas de Mar. A split in the peloton near the 100km-to-go mark left only 35 riders in the front and put the KATUSHA-ALPECIN team in the lead group with Kittel in perfect position with protection from his teammates Marco Haller and Simon Špilak.
Marcel Kittel: "Generally I have to say that this was a good day for us. The team worked great together and my legs felt good. Especially in the climbs in the first half of the race, where other teams wanted to drop us, our climbers like Dani Navarro supported me very well and we were able to control the race. When Mitchelton-Scott set the pace 100km to go to finish, the peloton split apart. Then I had Simon Špilak and Marco Haller with me and sitting in the wheel of the Mitchelton squad.” Kittel’s sprint was a good one and came from some distance in the pack, showing the German fast man continues to hold form in the early 2019 cycling season.