Vuelta King of the Mountains Clarke extends until end of 2015 with Orica GreenEdge
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vuelta King of the Mountains Clarke extends until end of 2015 with Orica GreenEdge

by VeloNation Press at 5:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Australian emphasises importance of team in helping his career

Simon ClarkeAfter beating no less than world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step) to grab the fourth stage of this year’s Vuelta and then going on to win the prestigious mountains classification in the race, Simon Clarke has been rewarded with an extended contract by the Orica GreenEdge team.

The 26 year old joined the squad last winter on a two-year deal. Having delivered on his promise this season, though, the team has decided to increase its original arrangement and has added an additional two years onto that original contract.

It means that Clarke will remain part of the team until the end of 2015.

The news is a boost for the Australian, who came close to quitting the sport in the past due to instability with previous teams. He turned pro in 2009 with the small Amica Chips-Knauf setup, spent two years with ISD and then intended moving to the Cervélo Test Team. However the latter setup collapsed and left him in the lurch; fortunately he was able to secure a one year arrangement with Astana, bridging the gap until Orica GreenEdge began.

He had previously been part of the Australian Institute of Sport as a young rider and after six years there, feels fully at home working as part of an Australian setup and under Astana general manager Shayne Bannan.

“Being Aussie in an Aussie team is a dream come true,” he said, reflecting on the extended contract. “I think I made a big step up this year, and in part, that’s because of the support I’ve received from this team. To have the chance to stay here for at least another three years is perfect for me.”

Aside from his Vuelta a España success – which also included the most aggressive rider’s award on stage twenty, the day when he sealed his mountains jersey win, he was also runner up on two stages and in the overall of the Tour of Norway, was second in the Rogaland GP and was third on two stages of the Vuelta a Burgos.

Of those, one race stands out. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Spanish Grand Tour. “Obviously, my results at the Vuelta stand out as a personal highlight,” he said. “It was my first Grand Tour and riding well there was a huge goal for me. I dreamt of winning a stage, and I did that after four days. I managed to continue to race well to come home with the jersey, too. It was a lot more than I expected.”

Bannan sounds like he did believe the rider was capable of that; in fact, he’s convinced that more is to come. “Simon has had a real breakthrough with us this year, and we’re thrilled to prolong his contract,” he said. “He’s gone from being a big talent on the cusp to taking a jersey in one of the Grand Tours, and we know he’s only shown some of his potential. He’s been a great asset to the team, and we look forward to supporting his development even further in coming years.”

Clarke is clear that Bannan is a big part of where he is now. “When I turned pro, I had some trouble with teams folding or being unreliable. One night, I was speaking to Shayne about my struggles over dinner,” he recollected. “He said ‘Stick it out one more year. After that, we’ll be able to look after you and you’ll have a great career.’ Having Shayne give me those words of confidence reminded me of the support I have behind me.

“It’s really special to look back at what he said to me when I was struggling and then consider what I’ve achieved this year in this team he has created. I’m happy to stay here as long as I can.”

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