It was Clarke’s ninth podium of the 2014 season, which has included stage wins at the Tour of Japan and Tour de Kumano just last month. The 29-year-old from Tasmania was pipped by Fabian Schnaidt (Team Vorarlberg) at the end of the 144.4km stage in Urmia. Kazushige Kuboi (Team Ukyo) was third.
“I was beaten pretty easily because I started my sprint a bit late,” Clarke admitted following the stage.
The entire Drapac squad of Clarke, Robbie Hucker, Ben Johnson, Malcolm Rudolph and Bernard Sulzberger made the front group when the first split came after 70km in the flat stage in the hot, breezy conditions. With the local teams applying considerable pressure all day, the peloton covered 56km in the first hour of racing and 104km after two.
A second split then formed with Hucker and Rudolph missing out but the pair made it to the selection of around 60 riders who would fight for the finish.
“Bernie did a great job for me in the final and kept me out of the wind for a long time,” explained Clarke. Despite a busy race program of late which began with the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan early in May, a short break following Kumano was enough to leave Clarke feeling refreshed and up for the challenges of the Tour of Iran this week.
“I took it pretty easy after the two races in Japan so I should be okay here,” he said. “It’s my last race for a while so I’ll be fine.”
Clarke now trails General Classification leader Schnaidt by four seconds following the distribution of time bonuses and will be on the lookout for the move on Stage 2, the longest of the tour at 210.3km.
Drapac snapshot results Stage 1, Tour of Iran -
2. Will Clarke (Aus)
13. Ben Johnson (Aus)
31. Mal Rudolph (Aus)
46. Bernard Sulzberger (Aus)
53. Robbie Hucker (Aus) +0:00:13.