Will Clarke (UniSA) has won the second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under after soloing to a magnificent victory in front of a huge crowd in Stirling.
His astonishing triumph, whose foundations were laid after just one kilometre from the start in Lobethal, came in Clarke’s first WorldTour race. The 26-year-old Australian races as an amateur for the Champion System team, and didn’t know he would be riding the Tour Down Under until two weeks ago.
“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 – but this is unbelievable. I was dying in the last 10 kilometres.”
Clarke rode alone to victory after his breakaway partner, Martin Kohler (BMC), sat up after the summit of the category two Fox Creek Climb. Kohler’s bonuses from the breakaway were enough to put him in the leader’s Ochre jersey, which he will defend on today’s third stage from Unley to Victor Harbour.
Building a lead of up to 12 minutes on the chasing peloton, Clarke doggedly continued, remaining ahead of a chasing pack driven in turn by GreenEdge, Rabobank, and Sky.
Three-and-a-half laps of the closing circuit in Stirling tested the Australian to the limit, but he found an inner resolve to finish ahead of a peloton headed by an elite group of riders lead by Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Simon Gerrans (GreenEDGE), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).
Clarke was understandably emotional after his victory, describing his victory to waiting reporters as the biggest of his career and “unbelievable”.
Tour Down Under stage two
1) William Clarke (AUS) – UNI SA – 3:58:35
2) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Rabobank at 0:01:02
3) Simon Gerrans (AUS) – GreenEDGE – ST
4) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar
5) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Sky Procycling
6) Oscar Freire (SPA) – Katusha
7) Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC
8) Luke Roberts (AUS) Team Saxo Bank
9) Gerald Ciolek (GER) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) Garmin-Barracuda
1) Martin Kohler (SUI) – BMC – 8:33:05
2) André Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Belisol + 2”
3) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Rabobank +4”
4) Simon Gerrans (AUS) – GreenEDGE + 8”
5) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – UNI SA – Australia + 9”
6) Eduard Vorganov (RUS) – Katusha + 10”
7) Xavier Florencio Cabrè (SPA) – Katusha + 12”
8) Jonathan Cantwell (AUS) – Team Saxo Bank
9) Jan Bakelants (BEL) – RadioShack-Nissan
10) Luke Roberts (Aus) – Team Saxo Bank