Young Tasmanian cyclist Will Clarke has won the second stage of the 2012 Tour Down Under in what experts are hailing as one of the great solo rides in the event's history.
The 148 kilometre stage began earlier this week (January 17) in Lobethal, South Australia, with Clarke doing his home state proud by daring to launch an early breakaway then holding off the peloton all the way to Stirling in West Australia.
Individual efforts such as Clarke's are rare in a sport where teamwork and safety in numbers can be critical, but the 26-year-old defied expectations having been without a contract for the top tier race just one month earlier.
He only made the UniSA team after an impressive fifth placing at the Australian road race championships earlier in January.
Clarke leads the Mountains and Sprint classifications of the prestigious event, but perhaps just as importantly he now appears likely to attract interest from pro tour teams in the near future.
Former Team UniSA rider Patrick Jonker told ABC radio: "This will be considered one of the greatest rides in Tour Down Under history."
Team manager Dave Sanders described the win as physically, mentally and emotionally amazing, while Clarke himself was delighted to have fought back from a tough year in 2011.
"It's going to give me a confidence boost," Clarke said.
After just 1.1 kilometres Clarke and BMC rider Martin Kohler escaped the peloton and – after the Swiss collected time bonuses and dropped back to the field – the Tasmanian negotiated the final 80 kilometres alone and under pressure from a highly-credentialed pack of chasers.
In a proud day for Tasmanian cycling Clarke has put the island state well and truly on the map with this remarkable feat. Audiences from around the world will now be watching on eagerly as Clarke attempts to win the overall race.