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The Australian Orica-GreenEDGE rider is crowned overall winner of Australia's oldest bike race after the threat of bushfires forces the organizers to cancel the queen stage up Arthur's Seat

Photo: Sirotti

CAMERON WURF

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HERALD SUN TOUR

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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SIMON CLARKE

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09.02.2014 @ 08:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) has taken home the overall win in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in unexpected fashion after today's queen stage to the top of the Arthur's Seat was cancelled due to the threat of bushfires. The Australian Ardennes specialist completes Orica-GreenEDGE's triple success in the Australian summer after Simon Gerrans' victories in the Australian national championships and the Tour Down Under by relegating Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Jack Haig (Avanti) into the minor spots on the podium.

 

Simon Clarke has been crowned 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion, continuing local WorldTour team Orica GreenEDGE’s dominance of the Australian summer of cycling. Clarke was awarded the victory as the leader going into the final stage after consultations between Victoria Police and race organisers concluded that today’s final stage at Arthurs Seat could not proceed due to extreme weather conditions.

 

Whilst there was no immediate threat on Arthurs Seat, emergency services including police and fire brigade, had been diverted to other areas under threat across the state. With results standing as at the conclusion of yesterday’s third stage, former Olympic rower Cameron Wurf (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and the up-and-coming Jack Haig (Avanti Cycling Team) rounded out the podium.

 

Having experienced 40-degree heat one day earlier, things had cooled down and the wind direction had changed for today's queen stage which was expected to produce a major shake-up of the GC. The stage was mostly flat but ended with three passages of steep Arthur's Seat climb, with the final one coming just 200m from the line. Three riders within shouting distance of the overall win and all was still to play for in Australia's oldest stage race.

 

However, the tension started to raise in the media centre when it became clear that smoke seen from the top of the climb and strong winds would force a change to stage. Finally, race director John Trevorrow made the tough call to cancel the stage in its entirety.

 

"There is no immediate threat within this region but the emergency services, police and fire, are in other areas under threat across the state," he said. "I'm devastated of course. I was looking forward to this amazing stage up Arthur's Seat, I’m devastated for us the race organizers, the bike riders, and especially for the fans. It was going to be something special I reckon.

 

“Simon is a deserving victor of the 2014 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and will sit comfortably amongst an honour roll that features so many of Australia’s great bike riders,” he aaded “Whilst we are obviously disappointed that this great stage at Arthur's Seat could not go ahead, we understand the decision made by authorities.

 

“It is a pretty dark day out there and the safety of the public state wide and our own riders and spectators is by far the priority. We had a number of event staff who have left the race to go home having received news that their houses are under threat, so there is a much bigger picture involved here.”

 

Adding to Orica-GreenEDGE’s individual success through Clark, the Australian WorldTour outfit also claimed the teams classification. Continuing his impressive start to 2014, 20-year-old Jack Haig claimed the white jersey as the Tour’s best under 23 rider, adding the honour to the best young rider jersey he won at last month’s Tour Down Under.

 

20-year-old Victorian Thomas Hamilton (Jayco Australia U23 National Team) won the King of the Mountain Jersey, while 26-year-old Queenslander John Anderson (Drapac Professional Cycling) claimed the Green Jersey as the race’s best sprinter.

 

The Australian summer of racing continues with the Oceania Championships (February 23-25) but most of the Orica-GreenEDGE riders will head to Europe to start their WorldTour campaign.

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