GreenEDGEFans interviews Will Clarke
The Roar caught up with Will Clarke, a cyclist for Team Champion Systems. He has raced for big pro-teams like Ag2r-La Mondiale and Leopard-Trek before making the move to TCS.
GreenEDGEFans: Most Australians know you from your memorable stage win in the 2012 tour down under from Lobethal to Stirling. This is regarded as your biggest win as it was a pro-tour event. You were out front for a long time, what went through your mind when Martin Kohler decided to return to the field after gaining the bonus seconds he was looking for?
Will: Yes it was a long breakaway that day we went from the start. I knew Kohler wanted the bonus seconds to move up on GC. So as soon as he had the time bonuses he sat up, I had roughly 82km to go at that stage and I had no intention of slowing down. I started riding a lot faster.
GreenEDGEFans: On that stage, when did you think, you could/would win the stage…its a long ride alone?
Will: When I hit the circuit with a bit over 60k to go I had around 10 mins but I was still feeling very strong and one lap later they had only taken 30 seconds out of me, at that stage I knew I had a very good chance of staying away. Dave Sanders my sports director in the car was really great telling me I could do it and keeping me going. I rode it all the way through the line because I half expected the peloton to catch me in the last 100 m. When I won it, it was unbelievable.
GreenEDGEFans: You’re not the typical rider: 192 cm (6ft3 and a bit in the old money) and you weigh over 80 kilos, how did you get into cycling?
Will: Yeah I’m fairly big for a rider. As a kid and when I was at school I did a lot of sports like swimming and football, but I was more serious about athletics, I competed until I was 22 then I took up cycling for fitness because I had a bad run with injuries for quite some time, then I got the bug and started racing.
GreenEDGEFans: You come from the “apple Isle” of Tasmania, there is a incredible amount of talent coming out of Tassie at the moment with the likes of, Matt Goss, Richie Porte, the Sulzberger clan and so on. Is there anything that you can pinpoint that would explain such a small state getting such a good representation?
Will: Yes I think we have always produced some really good sports people, not just in cycling. I think a lot of the Tasmanian cyclists have a strong work ethic. There is good club racing in the state and coaching, most of the guys live in the north so it’s always good for training when everyone is home.
GreenEDGEFans: You lost your job with the merger of Leopard and Radioshack and we have seen the collapse of Fly V here in Australia. Considering the fickle nature of sponsorship, what better protection for riders would you like to see or envisage?
It would be nice if our jobs were a bit more secure. (However) Most of us had contracts for the next year, but it didn’t mean much in the end.
GreenEDGEFans: You now race for a successful Pro-continental team from China how do you see Chinese or even Asian cycling progressing?
Will: Cycling in Asia is really a growing market, with the world tour race in Beijing and another one also likely to happen it is really promising, I can see it getting bigger and more people and businesses becoming involved and more world tour cyclists coming out of there.
GreenEDGEFans: Going from a massive European team that had the likes of the Schlecks, Cancellera and Stuey to a smaller team from China, did you see any differences?
Will: In some ways it is a bit more relaxed on champion systems as it is a smaller team and we don’t have the big riders. Last year I only raced in Europe, this year I have raced in Asia, America and Europe so there is much more travel involved, so I’m getting adjusted with that.
GreenEDGEFans: Considering that you are a “big” rider and have the ability to generate power do you think that races such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix could be races if given the opportunity you could be be successful with?
Will: Definitely I think I could be good at them. They are really hard races and are often won solo which I think suits me. I’m still getting stronger so I think anything is possible.
GreenEDGEFans: A “big” rider for a GC contender can offer the ability to “shelter” a rider, “muscle” a rider to the front of a climb and be a good domestique, do you see yourself offering this to a Pro-Tour team?
Will: Id like to be like Jens Voigt for sure (laughs). I think I could do this as I develop as a rider.
GreenEDGEFans: Is there anyone you would like to mention that has helped you in your journey as a professional cyclist?
Will: Andrew Christie Johnson and Steve Price at Praties now Genesys Wealth Systems were the guys who really helped me step up, they put a lot of time and money into it and quite a few guys have become professional starting with them and there is some more guys coming through now, they have a great program.
GreenEDGEFans: Praties/Genesys Wealth Advisers or the “orange army” are having considerable success on the grand stage can you highlight as a former rider is any attribute of the team that is generating this of success?
Will: I think at Genesys we all just loved racing together and that made it all heaps of fun when we went away and that’s why they are so successful.
GreenEDGEFans: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Will: I want to be an established professional
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us. We all hope to see you racing at the highest level, thank you.
Follow Will Clarke on Twitter: @clarkeywilbur
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