Clarke Wins Stage 2 of Herald Sun Tour 2014
Team GreenEdge's Simon Clarke has won stage 2 of the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and thereby took the overall race lead from Garmin-Sharp-POC's Nathan Haas after a hot day in the breakaway.
On a day where race leader Nathan Haas of Team Garmin-Sharp-POC faltered, Simon Clarke of Team GreenEdge secured himself a spot in the breakaway group which eventually brought him both the stage victory and the overall Herald Sun Tour race lead. Team GreenEdge had been outclassed by Garmin-Sharp-POC in both the prologue and stage 1.
Clarke led home Cameron Wurf (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) and 20-year-old Bendigo local Jack Haig (Avanti Cycling Team), as the trio successfully held the peloton at bay after escaping over the category one climb at Mount Alexander.
In a move initiated at the 20 kilometer mark of the stage, Clarke and Haig spent over 100 kilometers off the front of the peloton, joined by former Olympic rower Wurf over the top of the day’s major climb.
17 riders made the initial escape before it was whittled to three up the climb.
Stage one winner Haas crossed the line seventh on the stage, as part of the second group on the road led home by current Australian champion Simon Gerrans.
Haas lost over one minute on the stage to Clarke.
A former white jersey winner at the race, Clarke’s victory in the 165 kilometer second stage from Ballarat to Bendigo was his first at the Herald Sun Tour.
Clarke cited the rivalry between GreenEdge's and Garmin-Sharp-POC’s brigade of young Australian riders as motivation to correct what he saw as an unexpectedly understated opening to this year's Herald Sun Tour.
“It was a very hard day out there, we had to just try and give it to Garmin,” Clarke explained.
“Yesterday Haas was just so strong, Cameron Meyer and I tried to ‘one-two’ him, and he was just all over us, and he beat us all in the sprint.
“We really had to go out on the front foot and try and put them on the back foot and we managed to do that.”
It was a case of executing the game plan to the letter for Team GreenEdge as Clarke said his tactic was to get into the break and apply the squeeze to those around him up the testing final climb of the day.
“The group through the day wasn’t working ideally, so on the climb there at Mount Alexander we had to try and buy a lottery ticket.
“Fortunately Cameron Wurf was there, who is just as strong as an Ox, so I said to the other boys when we were near to the top to make sure we wait for him and as you saw he was of great value to the breakaway and pretty much the reason we stayed away.”
Clarke revealed GreenEdge teammate Mitch Docker had also been sent up the road with the sole responsibility of ensuring that the break stayed away long enough for him to pounce on the category one Mount Alexander climb.
“I’ve really got to thank [Docker], he did an awesome job, managed to set it up for me, I attacked on the climb, and just made sure I didn’t try and go solo, but just break it