• Simon Clarke EF Education First) on the final podium at the 2019 Tour de La Provence(Getty) (Velo)Source: Velo
Aussie Simon Clarke finished second on the final stage of the Tour de La Provence behind John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) to sit on equal time with race leader Gorka Izagirre, losing the race on count back by just one second.
Cycling Central

18 Feb 2019 - 12:21 PM  UPDATED 18 Feb 2019 - 12:33 PM

Coming home just behind the galloping German earned the EF Education First rider enough bonus points to jump from fourth overall to so agonisingly close to overall victory. 

The Aussie was still fairly upbeat posting this to social media:

It was a fine performance from Degenkolb who looks once again to the classics, made even sweeter after his fairytale victory on the Roubaix stage of the 2018 Tour de France. 

Degenkolb's fairytale
It was fitting John Degenkolb won over the cobbles in Stage 9 of the Tour de France, as no one in the peloton has endured a rockier road over the last few years.

“The first victory is always very important and it’s good when it comes as early as in the second race of the season," Degenkolb said. "I’m very happy. We had a strong race as a team in all four stages. We were already second yesterday [with Toms Skujins] and today we take the win, not only me, but the whole team. It’s a fantastic victory that motivates me for the next races.”

Astana and the Izagirre brothers are also enjoying a fruitful early season with Angel Lopez taking the overall at the Tour of Colombia and Gorka's brother Ion securing the general classification at the Tour of Valencia. 

“I’m very happy, very very happy," Gorka Izagirre said. "It’s been a very demanding and stressful finale but we made it. Mission accomplished. It’s a very big victory. I’m normally a team worker. I’m glad I got confidence from the team to ride for myself.”