Clarke jumps straight into the deep end

Will Clarke was given a baptism of fire for his return to the WorldTour.

Relaxed: Will Clarke said he is settling in nicely with his latest WorldTour team. 
Picture: Cannondale-Drapac

Relaxed: Will Clarke said he is settling in nicely with his latest WorldTour team. Picture: Cannondale-Drapac

The 31-year-old Campbell Town rider’s first major assignment with Cannondale-Drapac was in one of cycling’s most prestigious one-day races, the 291-kilometre Milan-San Remo.

Beginning his third stint at the sport’s elite level, Clarke didn’t disappoint, joining an early break of 10 riders in the 108th running of the Italian one-day classic.

After gaining plenty of exposure for his team, the group was eventually caught and Clarke went on to finish 156th.

Clarke, whose wins in the Herald Sun Tour, Tour de Taiwan, Tour of Austria and Volta a Portugal were the equal most by an Australian in 2016, told The Examiner he was excited to debut in the first of the season’s monument races, known as La Primavera.

“All is well over here,” he said from Europe.

“I have settled into Girona [his base in Spain] pretty well. It’s great training and support network with the team set-up here. And the weather has been good.

“My program is not too heavy so it will be good to get some good quality training and recovery between them.

“My next race after San Remo is Coppi e Bartali [Italy] on March 23-26, then I have a one-day race in Spain on April 1, another in Belgium on April12 and then the Tour of Romandie starting on April 25.”

Clarke can expect some familiar company in Switzerland with Tasmanian training partner Richie Porte also likely to race the event.

Clarke’s biggest goal for 2017 is to ride one of the three Grand Tours.

Mountain climbs

A strong Tasmanian contingent contested the national mountain bike championships on the Gold Coast.

Riverside student San Fox added a third place in the junior men’s cross-country race to his success at last week’s Oceania titles while Longford’s Innes Ferrier was 11th.

Hobart’s Ben Bradley also came third in the under-23 men with Wyena’s Alex Lack 11th. In the under-17s, Launceston’s Izzy Flint finished fifth, Riley Cowling ninth and Patrick Cooper made it to the finish despite breaking his chain.

Dustan award

Madeleine Fasnacht has been presented with the Scott Dustan Memorial Shield as the best performing under-19 Tasmanian cyclist. The shield is determined from points accrued in state, national, Oceania and world championships.

The Hobart teenager, who has won national and continental road race titles in the last year, adds her name to a trophy that includes an illustrious list of Tasmanian cyclists.