Will Clarke, the one that got away

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.

14 thoughts on “Will Clarke, the one that got away”

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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…

  7. 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?

  8. 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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