Clarke on the right track with stage win

THE shelves of Will Clarke's trophy cabinet are filling up almost as quickly as the pages of his passport, with the Tasmanian cyclist adding a stage win in the Tour de Kumano to his recent triumphs in tours of Azerbaijan and Japan.

Clarke claimed his second prologue victory in as many Japanese starts, setting a time of 51.05 seconds on the 700-metre course to beat Shih Hsin Hsiao (Team Gusto) and his Drapac teammate, Wouter Wippert.

Victory in the Mie Prefecture region marks the Campbell Town rider's seventh podium this season, having also won the opening stage of the Tour de Perth, finished as runner-up in the Oceania individual time trial championships and third in the Herald Sun Tour prologue.

``I felt good when I did a warm-up, and on such a short course, I knew it was going to be close,'' Clarke said.

``In a prologue, you can't control what anyone does and on such a short course you can't pace it - so I went out as hard as I could and thankfully got the win.''

Clarke backed up with yet another podium finish in yesterday's stage, finishing second behind Wippert.

Fellow Tasmanian Jai Crawford, of Hobart, came 50th while Flowery Gully siblings Wes and Bernie Sulzberger are among eight riders representing the team in the US.

Drapac marks a significant milestone in its 11-year history when the Australian Pro-Continental squad contests the 193km UCI 1.1-ranked Philly Cycle Classic for the first time tomorrow.

The team is in good hands with directeur sportif Henk Vogels having been the first Australian to win the race in 2000. 

``The year that I won it I believe there were a couple of hundred thousand spectators, which is pretty amazing for a bike race in any place,'' he said.

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