Second breakaway in as many days for Argos Shimano Australian
In 2012, Will Clarke claimed the biggest win of his career when he won the Stirling stage at the Tour Down Under in a solo move riding for the UniSA - Australia team. The additional laps around the 21.3km loop was no hindrance to Clarke making a similar attempt on Thursday, but after spending the majority of the stage off the front of the bunch, eventually finished 8:48 behind winner Tom Jelte-Slagter (Blanco) in 115th.
"It would have been nice to stay away and win the stage again," the Argos Shimano recruit told Cyclingnews. "That sort of stuff's always pretty hard to do but you've always got to try otherwise that won't happen."
Twelve months later, Clarke is back at his home WorldTour event after an unsettled season with Champion System. In his first race for his new team, Clarke has spent two stages at the front of the race, in breakaways - on the Corkscrew stage and then on Thursday. Frustratingly for Clarke, neither stint was deemed enough for him to be awarded the Most Aggressive prize.
"It would have been nice to get the most aggressive jersey today seeing as I've been in the breakaway twice in a row," he said.
"I'm quite pissed off actually; I don't know what else I've got to do to get it. Maybe go in the breakaway every day and then maybe I'll get one."
In Argos Shimano, Clarke has almost found his natural environment, with the 27-year-old rouleur having made escapes off the front his trademark.
"If I had a choice to join any team it would have been Argos Shimano," he explained. "They're always represented in the breakaways and in the big races they always show themselves and I think last year they won 40 races or something and they were Pro Continental so they already showed they could win big races.
"I like the efforts of the team also with their strong anti-doping policies. It's just pushing for a cleaner sport so it just gives guys like us more of a chance to win."
Clarke's season should be very different to what he experienced in 2012 where he raced in Australia, Qatar, Oman, Europe, Japan, USA, Canada and China. After the Tour Down Under, Clarke will be Europe-bound, having a short break before heading to Spain for a training camp. His racing program so far includes the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the Three Days of De Panne and on to the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.
"I'm going to be based in Maastricht [in Holland] this year which will be nice with a couple of teammates and a soigneur so it will be nice to have that support," Clarke explained. "It will definitely help me a little bit more than travelling the world and living out of a suitcase."