Australian fights back after rough start to Stage 9
Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) went on the attack for the second time during this Tour de France on Sunday, with just over 70km to go on Stage 9.
The Tour's most combative rider on Stage 3, Clarke shot off the front of the Chris Froome and Movistar-led group on Sunday before fighting his way past the lead trio of Bart De Clerq (Lotto Belisol), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) on the road in a big to chase down valuable KOM points.
Orica GreenEdge sports director said that it was very much the plan to have last year's KOM winner at the Vuelta a Espana follow the day's moves.
"We could afford to be aggressive today because the next climbing stage isn't until next Saturday," he explained. "We gave the option to Michael Albasini, Simon Gerrans and Simon Clarke to go on the attack. Albasini was in one of the first early moves but was caught.
"Simon didn't have a great start today. He felt a bit rough in the beginning. He went too deep at the start of the stage, but he really came good a bit later. He rode very, very aggressively. I would say he was one of the fastest guys on the first three climbs. He jumped from one group to another group before getting off the front by himself for a while."
With five points to his name after his road on Stage 3, Clarke added 10 more to his tally as first man over the top of the fourth climb of the day, the Cat. 1 Col de Val Louron-Azet. Dropping back to the peloton for the fifth and final climb, La Hourquette d'Ancizan, the 26-year-old Australian had to be content with his efforts, while Rolland had surged past classification leader Chris Froome with his raid. Clarke is now seventh in the KOM classification behind the Frenchman, Froome, Richie Porte (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
White remained ambivalent over whether Clarke would make a concerted attack in the battle for the polka dots.
"We'll see if Simon has other opportunities later on in the Tour to go after mountain points, but I suspect it will be hard for him to go down the road without Rolland," he explained. "Hard to say for sure. We'll have to play this one by ear."
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