After a successful early season, Australian all-rounder Jonathan Clarke believes his UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling men’s team has planned wisely by skipping the European spring races in order to best showcase the team in the major US races to come.
In the eight-stage Tour de Langkawi that finished last Wednesday, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling was one of the standouts, with the American Pro Continental outfit leaving Malaysia with one stage win – by American sprinter John Murphy in stage 3 – victory in the teams classification, Colombian Daniel Jaramillo’s second place overall, while Slovakian Janez Brajkovic and Clarke placed 11th and 12th overall respectively, and American Tanner Putt won the daily most combative rider award on stages 6 and 7.
It brought to an end a successful trip for the American team that had earlier raced well in the Herald Sun Tour of Victoria in Australia where Murphy won stage 3 to Inverloch, Putt was second on stage 2 to Moe, and Clarke placed sixth overall after a third on the final stage to Arthur’s Seat.
“We had a great week,” Clarke, 31, told Cyclingnews of their Tour de Langkawi in which the goal was to win a stage at the start, but at one point also saw them eyeing up a tilt at the overall win with a planned three-pronged attack by Jaramillo, Brajkovic and Clarke on stage 4 to the Cameron Highlands.
The latter challenge eluded them. None of the trio could follow Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), who won that stage and took the yellow leader’s jersey – only to lose it to South African Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) two days later and finish third overall behind a victorious Janse van Rensburg and Jaramillo.
But Jaramillo and Clarke tried to match Lopez in the Cameron Highlands finish before placing second at 30 seconds and fifth at 35 seconds, respectively, while Brajkovic was 10th at the same time as Clarke; yet all with their confidence intact. “All week we had good moral and it’s been a good start to the year,” Clarke said.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com