Somewhat lost amidst all the chaos at the Amstel Gold Race, as well as the wonderment at Mathieu van der Poel’s performance, was something of a record. Each man on the podium was there for the first time, with Simon Clarke (EF Education First) sprinting to second behind the Dutchman.
It was a career-best performance for the Australian, who bettered his previous best of 46th from back in 2013. Clarke went on the attack along with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) late in the race, eventually being swept up by the Van der Poel group, which caught the leaders at the death.
“When I saw Mollema go, I knew I wanted to follow,” said Clarke on the EF Education First website after the race. “I assumed I was racing for fifth place. Then the group caught us from behind.
“Here I was, flat out, thinking, ‘Well, I guess I’m not even going to be finishing in the top 10.’ I wasn’t aware everything was close together until I saw everyone in front of me with just over a kilometre to go.
“It was pretty crazy. And pretty motivating. I knew Van der Poel was the fastest guy, so I got on his wheel.”
Clarke stuck to Van der Poel’s wheel as the Dutch champion made it up to the leaders inside the final 300 metres. It proved a successful tactic, and showed no small amount of nous as well as strength – nobody else had managed to get in that position, after all.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com