Clarke, who was runner-up on Stage 1, was too good for Taiji Nishtani (Aisan Racing Team) and Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) after the 210km of racing in Aras. The 29-year-old also moves into the lead in the points classification with today’s win.
The victory marks Clarke’s 10th podium of the season, along with the fifth time he’s moved into the race lead – four of which have been in UCI races – having already done so at the Tour de Perth, Tour d’Azerbaïdjan, Tour of Japan and Tour of Kumano.
Drapac Directeur Sportif Agostino Giramondo credited what he described as “a great team effort all day.”
Clarke, along with Malcolm Rudolph led the charge for the early break of 12, which escaped after 20km. Sixty kilometres later, a group of 20 riders made it across the gap and were soon followed by another bunch, including Ben Johnson and Bernard Sulzberger.
“Ben Johnson had us on the edge of our seat with 12km left to race, laying it all on the line with a solo move,” explained Giramondo, “but he was unfortunately caught with 5km to go.”
Rudolph and Sulzberger then guided Clarke to the finish where Giramondo said he “comfortably won the stage.”
Clarke holds a 12-second lead heading into Thursday’s third stage and Giramondo admits that it won’t be easy to defend.
“It’s going to be hard to control the Tabriz team but we will try and hold on to the lead for another day at least,” he said.