Clarke claims points classification victory at Tour of Iran
Drapac Professional Cycling has wrapped up its 2014 Tour of Iran campaign with Will Clarke claiming points classification victory and his second runner-up finish of the UCI 2.1 event on the final stage on Sunday.
The Stage 6 result mirrors that of the opener, with Clarke second behind Fabian Schnaidt (Team Vorarlberg). Alois Kankovsky (Team Dukla Praha) was third in the 38-man strong bunch sprint.
Clarke had been locked in a tight, see-sawing battle for the points classification all week, with Hamid Shirisisan (Tabriz Pertrochemical Team) swapping the lead from Stage 2 onwards with no more than two points the difference. The Australian regained the lead on Saturday with two intermediate victories over Shirisisan, guided by teammates Malcolm Rudolph and Bernard Sulzberger.
“I was feeling pretty confident about getting the green jersey today,” said Clarke following the final stage in Tabriz. With just one intermediate sprint on over in the 124km stage, at the start of lap six of the circuit Rudolph again provided an ideal lead-out, ensuring a Drapac 1-2 across the line and Clarke a four-point lead in the classification.
With the stage finale, Directeur Sportif Agostino Giramondo said that the 29-year-old “didn’t disappoint” when it came to the team’s final objective of the race.
“All of the Drapac boys put it on the line for Clarke and he was beaten by half a wheel – it was a really great performance,” he said.
“The boys have had a good solid week of racing and from my point of view we exceeded our expectations and came home with good solid results,” Giramondo continued.
Clarke paid tribute to the work of his teammates.
“I’m happy with the week,” he explained having held the overall lead for a day following his victory in Stage 2. “We acknowledge we made a bit of a blunder on stage 3 but we learnt from that and it’s nice to go home with the green jersey.”
Giramondo said that he expects Drapac to return to the race stronger again in 2015.
“Looking into next year knowing the terrain it would be great to come back with a team especially suited to the race and we would then be competitive in all the areas such as climbing and sprinting,” he explained.
“The team has really enjoyed the week.”
Drapac snapshot results – Tour of Iran Stage 6:
2 Will Clarke (Aus)
35 Malcolm Rudolph (Aus)
36 Bernard Sulzberger (Aus)
61 Robbie Hucker (Aus) +0:00:49
62 Ben Johnson (Aus)
Final Points Classification:
1 Will Clarke (Aus) 23
10 Malcolm Rudolph (Aus) 3