Will Clarke, the one that got away

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sport often celebrates the “little guy” winning and Will Clarke’s win in Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under fits this script. I’m hesitant to label a rider like Clarke “little” because he’s an elite athlete – and tall too. So far his career has been a story of breakaways, in more ways than one.

Once a 800m runner, he got stress fractures and dropped athletics to take up cycling in 2007. He joined the Praties team for 2008 (now known as Genesys Wealth advisors) and got some good wins, including the Goulburn to Citi. By 2009 he was arguably the most promising rider on the Australian domestic scene.

It was time for another solo move. He followed in the slipstream of many compatriots and travelled to Belgium and its kermesse races, making the move under his own steam and at his own expense. It paid dividends: he rode 11 races and won six. In addition he visited the lab for an effort test, his numbers impressed. Fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte (Team Sky) put him up in Monaco and introduced his agent Andrew McQuaid who then got in touch with French team Ag2r La Mondiale and within weeks he was a stagiaire, a trainee.

That’s him in the video from August 2010. Note the “I like breakaways” phrase. Clarke impressed the French team but he got away, signing for Leopard-Trek instead.

But within a year the squad folded and he was out on his own again, this time in a bad way as he was left out when the team merged into Radioshack.

Now with team Champion System for the year, he is riding the Tour Down Under as a guest for the UniSA team and earlier today, with some help from BMC’s Martin Kohler, he soloed to his finest win yet in Stirling. He got away again.

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{ 14 comments }

Ankush January 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I was surprised to hear the commentators say that Will was without a contract in 2012 but now as you mention that he’s with Champion System, it’s clarified. Great solo ride by him today

Pierre-Yves January 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

The Radioshack team are going to regret not keeping him.

JuanBikeRacer January 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Should he stayed in RSHT, he’d probably been instructed no to attack…glad he took the win, would’ve been even greater had he pulled a Voeckler and taken the leaders Jersey too!

simon fielder January 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

This shows what you can acheive when you have a point to prove.

Owen January 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Interesting insight from the interview. Seems like a good lad, I wish him luck.
I sometimes fear for these people and the transient, insecure nature of their jobs. Mind you, what a job.

DrPlumbster January 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Good on him! I wish him all the best, agree he would never have been allow to do that from a ‘super team’

Bartek January 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

80km solo ride to win + extra distance with Kohler only. Well, who knows, we just might have witnessed the most impressive win in World Tour 2012 already.

slim jim January 19, 2012 at 1:20 am

Genesys Wealth (formerly Praities) seems to be THE team you want to be in if you want to make the jump from Domestic to International racing.

Keep an eye out for Steele Van Hoff

CGradeCyclist January 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

A WorldTour stage win will make him quite valuable.

Come the end of the season, when the lower ranked ProTour are looking to secure their place for 2013, Clarke’s points may earn him a well-deserved contract…

Andy January 19, 2012 at 6:43 am

I was under the impression he won 9 of the 11 Kermesse races?

The Inner Ring January 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

CGradeCyclist: sadly he won’t score the ranking points because only riders on a Pro Tour team get to earn points.

Andy: source for six wins is here http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/will-clarke-the-latest-isle-apple, good on him if he won so many he can’t remember.

haps January 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

one question –
when pro-riders refer to results – is that relative to each rider – or is a term that for straight wins – top3 or even top10 finishes??

fournwi January 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Got to wonder if Kohler wouldn’t have had more time in the bag had he gone all the way to the line with Clarke. Does BMS regret having had him pull the plug when he did?

Christian January 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

He was off pace all of last year, I think he had a hard time adapting to the speed of the pro peloton. I didn’t think he had it in him but he proved me wrong … hopefully he can confirm this with Champion System. In the end it’s probably for the better that he is not with Radioshack, he would not have gotten many opportunities there.

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