Simon Clarke pleased with experience of riding for Astana
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Simon Clarke pleased with experience of riding for Astana

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Australian talks about his debut year in the ProTeam ranks

Simon ClarkeSimon Clarke has made a seamless transition to the top ranks of professional cycling this year when he moved from ISD-Neri to the Astana Pro team. He made his debut for the Kazakhstan outfit in the Tour Down Under in January then went to the Tour of Qatar where he was very aggressive. In March he went to race Tirreno-Adriatico and finished in fifteenth place overall.

“I had a really good start to the season, and it being my first year in a Pro Tour team definitely gave me that motivation to attack every race with everything I had,” he told VeloNation from the Int. Österreich-Rundfahrt/Tour of Austria, where he is currently racing.

“I knew that I was going to be able to make a big step up in my level of riding now being with a Pro Tour team but I didn’t think I would be able to adapt to the faster racing and be competitive from the start.”

Clarke was also a protagonist in the Tour of Flanders when he spent the day in the race’s escape. He then suffered a setback a week later when he crashed during Paris-Roubaix and was diagnosed with a wrist fracture.

Upon recovering from the injury, he went on the ride the Tour of Belgium, the Tour de Suisse and Austria.

“I got fourth in the first stage [on Sunday]. It didn’t really suit me being a sprint finish, but we have no team sprinter here this week so I asked to have a go in the finish and managed to surprise myself.”

The 24 year old is another of the successful riders to have come thorough the Australian Institute of Sport ranks. After riding for their development team, he spent 2009 on Amica Chips – Knauff before moving to the ISD-Neri for the remainder of the year and for 2010.

Clarke was in negotiation last year to ride with the Cervélo Test Team this season but instead Astana swooped in and within days of contacting the Victorian, a contract was signed. It was a good decision from Clarke as the same day he signed his contract with Astana, the Cervélo Test Team announced the squad would not continue.

“I have fitted in well here at Astana,” he said. “I really like the group we have and compared from where I came from last year it is heaven to be in an organization like Astana.”

Clarke’s best year as a professional will go a long way in a bid to start his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España in August.


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