Simon Clarke of Orica-Greenedge Team (Photo: Chiu Ling, Togoparts)

Simon Clarke’s sensational victory in tonight’s OCBC Cycle Singapore Professional Criterium handed ORICA-GreenEDGE back to back wins in Singapore and continued Australia’s dominance of the annual race following Robbie McEwen’s first-place finish in 2012.

It was truly a remarkable effort by Clarke and Stuart O’Grady to bring the victory home with only a two-man team. Rapha Condor JLT led for most of the 90-minute race with Kristian House out in front from the early stages and Ed Clancy fighting to haul in Clarke on the final sprint.

House had led an aggressive race in the early stages, while the field also clocked the two fastest laps ever recorded at the OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013 Professional Criterium.

New Zealand’s Aaron Gate also featured strongly throughout and at times the lead bunch was a sea of black, dominated by Rapha Condor JLT and the New Zealand colours.

There were frequent flashes of red, however, with the local OCBC Singapore Continental Cycling Team dominating the five designated sprint laps as the home crowd cheered Neil Van der Ploeg home to claim the Cycle Asia King of the Sprints in emphatic fashion. The local team enjoyed a double celebration with Saiudomsin Phuchong crossing the finishing line as the first-placed Asian rider (18th).

The night still belonged to ORICA-GreenEDGE, however, and Clarke was a face of jubilation after becoming the fourth Australian winner of the OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013 Professional Criterium in the event’s fifth year.

“It felt like it took us about an hour to get going but then we started to really feel good. We held strong on the breaks so we seemed to have saved quite a bit for the finish. At the last minute we changed plans and decided that Stuey would take me down the home straight. I managed to squeeze under him at the last corner and that was the key point in winning the sprint,” Clarke said.

Clancy, a gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, was gracious in second place and handed the plaudits to the ORICA-GreenEDGE team.

“Kristian was the leader on the road, I didn’t ask him to ride for me but he’s always got faith in me. There is no shame in losing to Simon Clarke and all week I’ve said I expected them to be head and shoulders above the rest of us. I thought we had a fighting chance at the end but with a second place I am pretty happy.”

Roman Van Uden of Node 4 – Giordana Racing crossed the line in third place to round out the top three finishers. Clarke claimed USD12,500, Clancy took home UDS8,000 for Rapha Condor JLT while Van Uden bagged USD6,000 in prize money.

Chris Robb, Managing Director of Spectrum Worldwide, the event owner and organiser of OCBC Cycle Singapore, commented on the brilliant spectacle put on by the high-quality field.

“It was an amazing performance from ORICA-GreenEDGE tonight. Simon Clarke and Stuart O’Grady were magnificent in the victory tonight and turned on an incredible show for the large crowd who came down tonight,” Robb said.

“The sport of cycling is growing rapidly in Asia and races such as the one we witnessed tonight go a huge way to building cycling’s fan base across the region.”

Information: Spectrum Worldwide