Clarke stays away from a crash to win Perth opener

cycling, Australia, Woodside Tour de Perth, Drapac, Will Clarke, 2014 Subaru National Road Series
Drapac's Will Clarke avoided a late crash to win the first Subaru National Road Series race of the season (Mark Gunter)

Will Clarke took the opening stage win at the 2014 Subaru National Road Series (NRS) Woodside Tour de Perth on Wednesday night.

It was such a tight course you had to be at the front or basically your race was over, it was so vital.

The Drapac rider, who stayed in front of a crash just before the finish line in Freemantle, finished the 35-lap race ahead of CharterMason Giant Racing’s Shannon Johnson and Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti Racing Team).

Clarke, who was the 2009 NRS champion, now takes a four second race lead into the second stage in Kalamunda.

After a small break was established Drapac then did the work to bring the peloton back together in the twilight criterium.

“Will and Travis [Meyer] were in every break and in the moves all night,” said team director Henk Vogels.

“The boys got Will up the front but given he was able to avoid crashing it was just brute strength which saw him take the win ahead of the sprinters of the peloton.”

Clarke admitted that racing was not easy on the tight circuit, despite a significantly reduced field following a crash before the first intermediate sprint.

“The whole race was really sketchy but I was able to come through unscathed and eventually take the win,” he said fresh off the podium and clad in the yellow leader’s jersey.

“I felt pretty good but it was quite a hard race. I was definitely the beneficiary of having four team-mates left in the race at the end. They made sure I was up there.”

The 2014 Woodside Tour de Perth continues Thursday with a 116km stage to Kalamunda.

Stage 1: 39km, Fremantle Criterium
1 William Clarke (DPC) 58min 34sec       
2 Shannon Johnson (CHM)           
3 Anthony Giacoppo (ART)           
4 Craig Hutton (DCM)           
5 James Rendall (AWS)           
6 Benjamin Harvey (SKO)               
7 Michael Freiberg (HCT)               
8 Ryan Thomas (GPM)               
9 Sam Welsford (SGR)           
10 Tang Wang Yip (TSN)       

General classification
1 William Clarke (DPC) 58min 21sec   
2 Anthony Giacoppo (ART) 0:00:04   
3 Alex Wohler (BFL) 0:00:07   
4 Shannon Johnson (CHM) 0:00:08   
5 Michael Rice (STR) 0:00:10   
6 Craig Hutton (DCM) 0:00:12   
7 James Rendall (AWS) 0:0013   
8 Benjamin Harvey (SKO)               
9 Michael Freiberg (HCT)               
10 Ryan Thomas (GPM)   

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