2012 TDU: UniSA Will Clark breaks away and wins

Tasmanian Will Clarke (UniSA-Australia) posted a superman solo effort today to secure victory in the Colemans Group Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under. He finished 1:02 ahead of the bunch led home by 2011 stage winner Australian, Michael Matthews (Rabobank) with newly crowned Australian road race champion, Simon Gerrans (GreenEDGE) in third place.

The stage began in Lobethal and wove it’s way through the Adelaide Hills to Stirling. A stage record crowd of 110 thousand enthusiastic fans set themselves up to enjoy the action especially along the 21 kilometre finishing circuit out and back to Stirling which the riders covered three times.

“This is unbelievable really,” said Clarke. “This is the biggest win of my career. It’s my first win in the WorldTour. I knew my form was good.”

26 year old Clarke broke away in the first few kilometres of the stage with Swiss rider Martin Kohler (BMC) and by the 30 kilometre mark they had a lead of more than eight minutes on the peloton.

Kohler, 26, was also in yesterday’s attack and today he had his sights set on the Santos Ochre Leader’s Jersey. He started the day only four seconds off the pace and outpaced Clarke in both of the day’s Jayco Intermediate sprints, Mt Torrens (23.7km) and Balhannah (62.4km), to collect the maximum six bonus seconds. That proved enough in the end to put him in the race lead with a narrow two second margin from overnight leader, Germany’s, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). Matthews second place moves him up to third overall at four seconds.

“It is very cool,” said Kohler. “We had this little funny plan this morning, just go for it, and I am close on the GC (overall) and I tried again and the first attack was the successful one.

“It was a little bit surprising and if no-one was following – why not (attack)?” said Kohler. “It means a lot, because it is my first leader’s jersey and it is one of my favourite days here in Australia, but it is early in the season, so for sure it’s good to be already in good shape, but I know it’s going to be hard for the next stage which is a longer stage, with an uphill finish, which is different and more tough than other years. Its going to be really hard for me to defend the jersey because I think the last two days I have lost a little bit of energy.”

The Swiss rider dropped back to the bunch after claiming his sprint bonuses leaving Clarke in front alone for the final 90 kilometres of the stage.

“He probably thought it was not worth keeping going but the peloton gave me more time and I thought ‘you guys have to chase me hard to catch me’,” said Clarke. “I was dying in the last ten kilometres.

“[Team Manager] Dave [Sanders] was telling me to go for GC but… It’s amazing that a breakaway rider can stay away for so long. It’s sort of my speciality to keep going.”

Clarke started the day 1min50sec off the race lead but the tactic of joining an early attack not only netted him the stage win but he also claimed the SKODA King of the Mountain jersey as the first rider over today’s category two climb at Fox Creek (46.7km). On top of that he is leading the Jayco Sprint classification because of the 15 points he collected for the stage win and the six he claimed in the intermediate sprints behind Kohler.

Tomorrow the race departs from the cosmopolitan shopping hub of Unley for a 134.5km route that takes in the breath taking countryside of both the McLaren Vale and the picturesque coastal scenes of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The finish is in the seaside town of Victor Harbor.

Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo
Source: Santos Tour Down Under

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is most important professional cycling event in Australia and is held each year in January in South Australia: www.tourdownunder.com.au

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