Learning to love the nerves
Whether he’s at the classics, the grand tours or another stage race, Pascal Ackermann is always automatically one of the top favourites to win on the flats in international races. The 26-year-old, hailing from Rhineland-Palatinate, outshone his competitors at last year’s Giro d’Italia, his first Grand Tour. In addition to two stage wins, he became the first German to be awarded the ‘maglia ciclamino’ jersey for best sprinter.
Pascal Ackermann has become one of the top sprinters in the premier elite cycling tour series, the UCI WorldTour. ‘You do have to be a little crazy,’ he admits, ‘and you’ve really got to hold out until the end to win.’ When you see the powerfully quick sprinters fly toward the finishing line at over 70 km/h on TV, it can look as though it’s a matter of life and death. ‘This is where you’ve got to go all out. If you’re happy with a second place then maybe this isn’t for you.’ Pascal always aims to win and trains so that he can, both on his own and with his team.
Pascal is a guy who always seems to be smiling while still looking super focused. He sometimes used to get the jitters before and during a race. Now the German cyclist accepts that the nervous energy he feels when it comes to the final sprint of a flat stage is just part of it. It’s what makes the difference. Sometimes the nervousness would stop him from sleeping properly for days before a race, but now a healthy dose of nerves ensures that he can give it his all right when he needs to. A shy and friendly cyclist, Pascal turns into a fierce sprinter in the final stretch, giving it all he’s got to clinch the victory.