Clarke triumphs Down Under

2012-01-18 12:37

Adelaide - Australian Will Clarke was given a hero's reception by thousands of raucous fans after bringing a 140 km breakaway all the way to the finish of the Tour Down Under's second stage on Wednesday

Swiss rider Martin Kohler, of the BMC team, took possession of the race leader's ochre jersey from German Andre Greipel as the chasing peloton were outdone by the determined UniSA rider.

"This is unbelievable really," said Clarke.

"This is the biggest win of my career - it's my first win on the WorldTour."

Yet at the start of the day, Clarke had somewhat more modest ambitions.

He and Kohler had been part of a four-man break which attacked just after the start of the 148 km ride over undulating terrain from Lobethal to Stirling.

And after the Swiss had pocketed most of the day's points, and bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints - which would prove crucial later in the race -- he returned to the bunch with more than two laps of a 26 km finishing circuit remaining.

Clarke started the penultimate lap with a massive lead of 11 minutes on the chasing peloton, which by now had put some big engines from Team Sky, GreenEdge and Movistar up front in a bid to close the gap.

Despite seeing his lead brought down to 7min 30sec at the start of his final lap, Clarke held on to solo over the line in 3hr 58min 35sec.

Australian Michael Matthews of Rabobank won a group sprint for second place a minute later, with Simon Gerrans of GreenEdge third, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar fourth and Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen fifth.

"This is unbelievable really," said Clarke, who failed to find a spot with a WorldTour team last year when former team Leopard folded.

"I was up the road with a BMC rider (Kohler) to get some sprint points and I kept going when he went back to the peloton.

"He probably thought it wasn't worth keeping going. The peloton gave me more time and I thought, 'you guys are going to have to chase me hard catch me'. But I was dying in the last 10 km."

Kohler takes the overall lead from Lotto sprinter Greipel, a two-time race winner who won the opening stage Tuesday.


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