Tour Down Under : Aussie Will Clarke wins stage 2

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.

RELATED LINK: Stage 1 victory for Andre Greipel

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.

UniSA-Australia rider Will Clarke wins the second stage into Stirling. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

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.

Breakaway on stage 2 by Swiss rider Martin Kohler (BMC) and UniSA-Australia rider Will Clarke. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

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.”

Fans chase breakaway rider and stage winner William Clarke into the last lap. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

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.

New tour leader Martin Kohler (BMC) (SUI). Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

Team Reactions to Martin Kohler Leading
BMC Racing Team’s Martin Kohler rode into the overall lead at the Santos Tour Down Under Wednesday after breaking away early in Stage 2 and winning a pair of time bonus sprints.

‘Really Unbelievable’
Kohler, the reigning Swiss national time trial champion, wasn’t sure of pulling on the race leader’s ochre jersey until he and the peloton slashed a nearly 12-minute lead by solo stage winner William Clarke (UNi-SA) down to 62 seconds in the final kilometers of the 148 km race. Because Clarke lost 1:40 on the opening stage, the margin allowed Kohler to steal the jersey by two seconds from Stage 1 winner André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). “It’s really unbelievable,” Kohler said. “I had a good day and a good place with the best riders in the end and that brought me into the lead overall. To be in a ProTour leader’s jersey is very good so far. I am very happy.”

The Peloton on the road between Lobethal and Stirling. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

Planned Breakaway
Kohler shot from the pack immediately from the start, following a plan hatched before the race by BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Rik Verbrugghe. But when only Clarke followed, it wasn’t clear whether it would work. “With two bonification sprints available, I asked Martin to go in the break,” Verbrugghe said. “After he won both of them, I told him to go back to the peloton to rest.” While Kohler was dropping back, Clarke soldiered on alone, for the next 70 kilometers. But because the Tasmanian had lost time on the opening stage, Verbrugghe knew there was some time to concede. “The gap was still 10 minutes with about 40 km to go,” Verbrugghe said. “So it was really going to be close and the team needed to ride. Manuel Quinziato and Marcus Burghardt were chasing and then in the final it was Mathias Frank.”

Rihs Proud
Riding in the team car, BMC Racing Team sponsor Andy Rihs said he admired Verbrugghe’s strategy “I think it’s unbelievable because I didn’t expect a move like this,” he said. “I’d have to say the strategy by Rik to go for the chase for the bonus seconds really worked out well in the end. It was perfect actually. We are all very excited about that. It’s great for Martin, the BMC Racing Team and the team of Cadel Evans in Australia.”

First Time In The Lead
Kohler, a professional since 2008, had previously worn classification jerseys but had never enjoyed leading a race overall. In the Giro d’Italia last year, he wore the King of the Mountains jersey for two days. In the 2010 Santos Tour Down Under, he pulled on the Jayco Sprint Leader’s jersey after a Stage 1 breakaway similar to his escape with three others on Tuesday’s opening stage of this year’s race. In addition to winning the Swiss time trial championship last June, Kohler also earned a bronze medal in the national road race. “For sure this is one of the biggest days of my career,” Kohler said.


Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas was also surprised that Clarke stayed away … He said on Team Sky’s website “Because there were only two guys up the road, to start with everybody was chilled, and when the gap started to come down everybody got complacent because they all thought he was just an amateur. That wasn’t the case though – and no one realised how good he was. He was with Leopard last year, has lost 5kg and rode well in the nationals, so all the Aussies knew that, but no one expected him to be quite that strong. Fair play to him, he put in a fantastic performance and deserved his win.”

“The chase was hard and it was pretty uncomfortable when I took my turn on the front. The plan had originally been for me to work for Edvald but when no other teams were taking responsibility, we felt we had to try and do something about the situation.” Sports Director Sean Yates meanwhile told Sky “It was certainly a surprise result. Movistar started jumping up the road to try and get things moving and then I went up to Garmin and RadioShack to see if we could join forces. RadioShack put someone up there but Garmin wouldn’t play ball and it was too little too late.”

“It was fortunate he (Clarke) lost time yesterday because otherwise it would have been race over. I wasn’t aware of that and I assumed he was on the same time as everybody else. He attacked with 5km to go yesterday but must have popped when he got brought back.”

The greatest, the legend, Eddy Merckx, gives the thumbs up at the Tour alongside Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and ASO Media Director Julien Goupil. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

Bradley McGee, Saxo Bank DS – ”It was a really exciting day. The big teams couldn’t get organized in due time and realized too late the guy up the road was very very strong. He totally deserved the win today. Our boys were great together out there and our leaders are proving to be in good shape. We tried to gain some time with Luke and eighth is not bad at all but we have some work to do if we’re going to take home a solid overall result.

Radioshack-Nissan-Trek rider Jan Bakelants wasn’t happy how the stage went – “We made a little mistake along with the other teams. Clarke was strong and in the beginning he had another rider for quite some time. He finished it off like he should and it’s nicely done but I think a mistake by the GC teams. We pulled with as many guys as we could but maybe some other teams should have worked more too. We went as fast as we could to the finish and there was a sprint for second place.  The climbs were an advantage and in the last lap we normally would work for Daniele but I looked for him and he told me his legs were not so good and that I should sprint on my own. I did that, but after the descent I wasn’t so good and I wasn’t in such a good position.”

Greg Henderson: “I am a buckled unit. 2 crashes yesterday had me pedalling in squares today. I don’t bounce like i used to. Always amazed at the support on the roads. Awesome words of encouragement. As good as any European race. Thanks Adelaide and @tourdownunder”.

Former world champion Oscar Freire said there will be no going back on his decision to end his illustrious career at the end of the season. He told AFP “Last year wasn’t particularly lucky for me. I didn’t do the Tour de France and also I was sick in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain). My physical condition was okay, but I just didn’t get opportunities to show what I could do. This is my final year. I hope to be a little bit better, and a bit more lucky.”

“Milan-San Remo is the priority, but I also hope to do well at Tirreno-Adriatico before then and I’ll also be doing (Italian race) Eroica for the first time. Every year it’s getting more difficult. But two years ago, for example, I had a really good season, I won Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours, the most important sprints of the year. I hope to have similar success this year. After that, it will be over. I don’t know whether I will stay in cycling but let’s say I will have plenty of time to consider my options.”

Stuart O’Grady: “Congrats to Will Superman Clarke! Most incredible win I’ve witnessed in TDU history! And great job by team GE to help Gerro move up the GC!”

Rabobank rider Michael Mathews (AUS) has the Cycle Instead Young Rider  lead as the highest placed under 26 rider. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

The race start at Lobethal. Photo: Santos Tour Down Under / Regallo

A stage record crowd of 110 thousand lined the route.


1.  William Clarke UNI SA – Australia  3:58:35
2.  Michael Matthews Rabobank  @1:02
3.  Simon Gerrans GreenEDGE
4.  Alejandro Valverde Movistar
5.  Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling
6.  Oscar Freire Katusha
7.  Greg Van Avermaet BMC
8.  Luke Roberts Team Saxo Bank
9.  Gerald Ciolek Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10.  Heinrich Haussler Garmin-Barracuda
11.  Cameron Meyer GreenEDGE
12.  Sergey Lagutin Vacansoleil -DCM
13.  Jan Bakelants RadioShack-Nissan
14.  Linus Gerdemann RadioShack-Nissan
15.  Tiago Machado RadioShack-Nissan
16.  Bernard Sulzberger UNI SA – Australia
17.  Michael Rogers Sky Procycling
18.  Xavier Florencio Cabrè (Spa) Katusha
19.  Kristijan Koren Liquigas – Cannondale
20.  Gorka Izagirre Inausti Euskaltel-Euskadi
21.  Blel Kadri (Fra) La Mondiale
22.  Eduard Vorganov Katusha
23.  Giampaolo Caruso Katusha
24.  Julien Vermote Omega Pharma-QuickStep
25.  Jussi Veikkanen FDJ – BigMat
26.  Jonathan Cantwell Team Saxo Bank
27.  Ryder Hesjedal Garmin-Barracuda
28.  Alessandro Ballan BMC
29.  Luis Leon Sanchez Rabobank
30.  Rohan Dennis UNI SA – Australia
31.  Romain Lemarchand AG2R La Mondiale
32.  Serge Pauwels Omega Pharma-QuickStep
33.  Jose Joaquin Rojas Movistar
34.  Romain Feillu Vacansoleil -DCM
35.  Sandy Casar FDJ – BigMat
36.  André Greipel Lotto-Belisol
37.  Nathan Haas Garmin-Barracuda
38.  Javier Moreno Movistar
39.  Martin Kohler BMC
40.  Danilo Hondo Lampre – ISD
41.  Martin Elmiger AG2R La Mondiale
42.  Luca Paolini Katusha
43.  Fabio Sabatini Liquigas – Cannondale
44.  Jérémy Roy FDJ – BigMat
45.  William Bonnet FDJ – BigMat
46.  Matthew Lloyd Lampre – ISD
47.  Ruben Perez Moreno Euskaltel-Euskadi
48.  Jay Mccarthy UNI SA – Australia
49.  Grega Bole Lampre – ISD
50.  Mathew Hayman Sky Procycling
51.  Adam Hansen Lotto-Belisol
52.  Jack Bauer Garmin-Barracuda
53.  Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
54.  Thomas De Gendt Vacansoleil -DCM
55.  José Ivan Gutierrez Movistar
56.  Robbie Hunter Garmin-Barracuda
57.  Romain Sicard Euskaltel-Euskadi
58.  Sérgio Paulinho Team Saxo Bank
59.  Steele Von Hoff UNI SA – Australia
60.  Wilco Kelderman Rabobank
61.  Mirko Selvaggi Vacansoleil -DCM
62.  Federico Canuti Liquigas – Cannondale
63.  Angel Madrazo Movistar
64.  Vincente Reynes Mimo Lotto-Belisol
65.  Daniele Bennati RadioShack-Nissan
66.  Jens Voigt RadioShack-Nissan
67.  Daniele Ratto Liquigas – Cannondale  @1:20
68.  Davide Vigano Lampre – ISD  @1:24
69.  Francesco Masciarelli Astana  @1:28
70.  Davide Cimolai Lampre – ISD
71.  Gatis Smukulis Katusha  @1:35
72.  Maxim Belkov Katusha
73.  Wouter Mol Vacansoleil -DCM  @1:39
74.  Mathias Frank BMC  @1:52
75.  Gert Steegmans Omega Pharma-QuickStep  @1:58
76.  Marcel Sieberg Lotto-Belisol  @2:06
77.  Matthew Brammeier Omega Pharma-QuickStep @2:09
78.  Matteo Trentin Omega Pharma-QuickStep  @2:33
79.  Stefano Agostini Liquigas – Cannondale  @3:55
80.  Alan Marangoni Liquigas – Cannondale
81.  Marcello Pavarin Vacansoleil -DCM
82.  Jacopo Guarnieri Astana
83.  Jonas Jörgensen Team Saxo Bank
84.  Massimo Graziato Lampre – ISD  @4:29
85.  Dmitriy Gruzdev Astana
86.  Adrián Saez Euskaltel-Euskadi  @4:43
87.  Andrew Fenn Omega Pharma-QuickStep  @5:23
88.  Mark Renshaw Rabobank  @6:28
89.  Tom Leezer Rabobank
90.  Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling  @6:42
91.  Matt Goss GreenEDGE
92.  David Lopez Movistar  @8:09
93.  Olivier Kaisen Lotto-Belisol  @9:11
94.  Luke Durbridge GreenEDGE  @13:27
95.  Stuart O’grady GreenEDGE
96.  Jesse Sergent RadioShack-Nissan
97.  Hayden Roulston RadioShack-Nissan
98.  Robbie Mcewen GreenEDGE
99.  Leigh Howard GreenEDGE
100.  Lachlan Norris UNI SA – Australia
101.  Graeme Brown Rabobank
102.  Jaroslaw Marycz Team Saxo Bank
103.  Anders Lund Team Saxo Bank
104.  Takashi Miyazawa Team Saxo Bank
105.  Adam Blythe BMC
106.  Marcus Burghardt BMC
107.  Mauro Da Dalto Liquigas – Cannondale
108.  Alessandro Petacchi Lampre – ISD
109.  Yauheni Hutarovich FDJ – BigMat
110.  Manuel Belletti AG2R La Mondiale
111.  Tom Palmer UNI SA – Australia
112.  Imanol Erviti Movistar
113.  Manuel Quinziato BMC
114.  Kristof Goddaert AG2R La Mondiale
115.  Ricardo Garcia Ambroa Euskaltel-Euskadi
116.  Dmitri Muravyev Astana
117.  Arnaud Courteille FDJ – BigMat
118.  Danny Pate Sky Procycling
119.  Martijn Maaskant Garmin-Barracuda
120.  Mattéo Montaguti AG2R La Mondiale
121.  Borut Bozic Astana
122.  Jos Van Emden Rabobank  @16:17
123.  Kenny Van Hummel Vacansoleil -DCM
124.  Alex Dowsett Sky Procycling
125.  Valentin Iglinskiy Astana
126.  Pablo Urtasun Perez Euskaltel-Euskadi
127.  Victor Cabedo Euskaltel-Euskadi
128.  Greg Henderson Lotto-Belisol
129.  Andreas Klier Garmin-Barracuda
130.  Assan Bazayev Astana
131.  Boris Shpilevsky AG2R La Mondiale  @23:50

1.  Martin Kohler BMC  8:33:05
2.  André Greipel Lotto-Belisol  @:02
3.  Michael Matthews Rabobank  @:04
4.  Simon Gerrans GreenEDGE  @:08
5.  Rohan Dennis UNI SA – Australia  @:09
6.  Eduard Vorganov Katusha  @:10
7.  Xavier Florencio Cabrè Katusha  @:12
8.  Jonathan Cantwell Team Saxo Bank
9.  Jan Bakelants RadioShack-Nissan
10.  Luke Roberts Team Saxo Bank

30.  Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
50.  Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Barracuda
74.  Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-QuickStep  0:01:19
88.  Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling  0:05:52
91.  Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep  0:07:00
118.  Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC
123.  Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky Procycling   0:15:27
128.  Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Belisol

1.  UNI SA – Australia  25:38:49
2.  Sky Procycling  @1:02
3.  RadioShack-Nissan
4.  Lotto-Belisol
5.  Katusha
6.  AG2R La Mondiale
7.  Omega Pharma-QuickStep
8.  Rabobank
9.  BMC
10.  Euskaltel-Euskadi
11.  Garmin-Barracuda
12.  Movistar
13.  FDJ – BigMat
14.  Liquigas – Cannondale
15.  Team Saxo Bank
16.  Lampre – ISD
17.  Vacansoleil -DCM
18.  GreenEDGE  @6:42
19.  Astana  @7:48


Tags: ,