Pascal Ackermann sprinted to victory on The Mall to win the 2018 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic ahead of Elia Viviani (QuickStep Floors).
Viviani opened up his sprint first after a breakaway including Owain Doull (Team Sky) and Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) was reeled in with 6km remaining but Ackermann timed his own kick to perfection.
With Viviani coming up short, the German – a relatively late replacement for Irishman Sam Bennett in the Bora-hansgrohe line-up – was left to punch the air in delight.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was the highest-placed Brit on the day, having been added to the startlist after missing the Tour de France time cut in the Alps, but he finished 12th.
In pouring rain in London and out to the Surrey Hills, as this summer’s heatwave ended in spectacular style, it was a six-man break which formed early in the day’s proceedings.
Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) was an intriguing member of the breakaway, while Bahrain-Merida had options with Valerio Agnoli and Manuele Boaro both up the road.
Aaron Verwilst (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Pawel Cieslik (CCC Sprandi Polowice) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) completed the move, but the gap was always a small one.
Ewan was first to sit up, and abandoned after rejoining the peloton, but the group swelled in number when another Australian fast man, Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) helped instigate a counter-attack from the bunch.
Matthews – another to exit the Tour early, after sickness in the first week – was joined by Bora-hansgrohe’s Kennaugh and Jay McCarthy, Team Sky’s Doull, Christopher Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin).
Their gap never looked likely to be enough, with 60km still to race, but it did not stop Kennaugh – fresh from his GP Cerami victory – putting in an attack over Box Hill.
He was brought back, however, by an ever-diminishing front group – Matthews among those to drop back, before his bad luck continued when he needed a wheel change off the back of the bunch.
Doull was still in the front group, and accelerated hard to the final intermediate sprint to bag himself some extra bonus cash, but the sprint teams – with Lotto-Soudal in particular active – measured the chase well.
A late attack by Miles Scotson (BMC Racing) led to nothing, leaving things set up for a grandstand finish in front of Buckingham Palace.
Viviani went first, with Cavendish too far back to challenge at the sharp end of the final sprint, but it was Ackermann who timed his effort to perfection.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic 2018
1) Pascal Ackermann (GER) – Bora-hansgrohe – 4.20.11hrs
2) Elia Viviani (ITA) – QuickStep Floors – ST
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 Racing
8) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
9) Jonas Koch (GER) – CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10) Rudy Barbier (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale