By Greg Johnson in Melaka, Malaysia
After nearly spending the year without a team, Australia's Hilton Clarke says he's fitting in well at ProTour squad Fuji-Servetto. Clarke, a builder by trade, was left without a ride after the closure of Toyota-United Pro in the United States of America, where he had dominated the local criterium racing scene in 2008.
"It's good, I'm learning quickly that I've got to learn a few languages other than Aussie," joked Clarke. "All the guys seem really great and I'm fitting in well."
Clarke was in the mix for yesterday's stage victory at the Tour of Langkawi, finishing the stage in fifth despite feeling a little off on Monday's opening stage. He was the third Australian to register a top five finish, after Chris Sutton (Garmin-Slipstream) took second on the opening stage.
"Yesterday I tried to help my teammate and I wasn't really feeling too well, so today's a better sign for my confidence," he said. "Riding with confidence tomorrow, I might to a little bit better.
"I was a little bit far behind on the cobbles and the cobbles are a little bit sketchy there, but it was the same for everyone," added Clarke. "We heard on the radio it was going to be cobbled, so we knew it was going to be cobbled, I was just a little bit behind.
Clarke said he is waiting to take on the ProTour riders on their home soil in Europe before making any comparisons between the level of racing in North America and Europe. He has contested both the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Langkawi previously.