• Will Clarke (R) was awarded the most courageous rider jersey in stage one of the 2015 AMGEN Tour of California (Getty)
Australian Will Clarke did not win Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California but he captured hearts and a classification jersey on the way to Pasadena.
By
Cycling Central

11 May 2015 - 6:45 PM  UPDATED 12 May 2015 - 5:55 AM

The Drapac rider, Smartstop pair Rob Britton and Robert Sweeting and Steve Fisher of Jelly Belly-Maxxis crafted an escape at the 10km mark and rode out to a lead of over five minutes.

The Australian claimed the three intermediate sprints on offer and later he, Sweeting and Fisher batteled on until they were caught with less than 10km remaining of the 206km race.

By any measure it was a long day in the saddle, but it was not without reward for the Australian. He now holds the points jersey and was named the most courageous rider for his efforts.

"The break went pretty early in the day and was nearly 200km in the breakaway for me today," Clarke said. "I was pushing hard as we headed into town. I wish the break could have stuck like a few years ago in Down Under but that is racing.

"We were working well together and I am happy with today to earn the jerseys. This is a good place for the team to start this race off. This is one of the most important races for us this season so I am glad we can start off well."

With only minor climbing on offer on what will be another stage favouring the sprinters, Clarke is likely to hold on to his classification jersey after the 193.1km second stage from Nevada city to Lodi.