BICYCLE NEWS - Bora-Hansgrohe sprinter Pascal Ackermann powered to victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Germany in Halberstadt on Thursday as the overall race favourites finished safely in the peloton.
Ackermann, who won the points classification at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, edged out Alexander Kristoff and Italy's Simone Consonni at the end of the 167km ride from Hanover.
The 25-year-old will be hoping to pick up the German sprinting baton from Marcel Kittel, who retired last week, saying he had "lost all motivation to keep torturing myself on a bike".
Ackermann leads the early overall standings by four seconds from Norwegian Kristoff due to the bonus seconds for victory.
Former Tour de France champions Geraint Thomas and Vincenzo Nibali finished without trouble on a sedate day, although Julian Alaphilippe did test himself with a brief acceleration as he warms up for next month's world championships in Yorkshire.
"It was my recovery after a good little break and I felt very good," said the Frenchman, who thrilled his home fans in July by leading the Tour for long periods before finishing fifth.
"I'm happy to finish in the peloton... I attacked for myself, to see how I felt."
The Tour of Germany is a four-stage event which will end on Sunday.
Friday's hilly second stage from Marburg to Goettingen is the longest of the race at 202km.