Another Grand Tour, stage victories and helping fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte to more success are priorities on Will Clarke’s to-do list.
Enjoying a third crack at the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo, the Campbell Town 33-year-old is determined to finish his roller-coaster career on a high.
Fresh from helping Porte to a fourth runner-up finish in the Tour Down Under, Clarke again teamed up with his regular training partner in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Herald Sun Tour before the pair head to Europe with renewed motivation.
Having achieved a lifelong goal of riding a Grand Tour when he competed in the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, Clarke is keen for another taste of Europe’s big three tours – and with better preparation.
“I crashed in Colorado and six days later began the Vuelta with six stitches in my hand,” he recalled.
“It was good to do seeing as I had not done one but it would be nice to be a bit more active in the race.
“This is a good opportunity to race some big races and hopefully get to do a Grand Tour again.”
After graduating from the Continental ranks, Clarke rode WorldTour with AG2R La Mondiale (2010) and Leopard Trek, dropped into Pro-Continental with Champion System (2012), returned to WorldTour for a year with Argos-Shimano before five years with Drapac, the last two at the elite level.
The opportunity to return to the Trek family headed by general manager Luca Guercilena required no hesitation.
“I did not want to turn it down,” Clarke said after one of countless summer training rides with Porte.
“I always say hi to Luca when I’ve seen him which helped as did being from Tasmania and riding with Richie.
“Because I know half the staff already, it’s not that unfamiliar. You get to know a lot of people when in the sport.”
Trek see that it’s not just one or two riders that can win racesWill Clarke
Returning to his Spanish base in Gerona, Clarke hopes to add to his stage wins in the Tour Down Under, Sun Tour and such diverse destinations as Portugal, Japan, Austria, Taiwan, Iran and Azerbaijan.
“I’ve had yellow jerseys and a few nice victories in Europe and hopefully can get a few more before I stop racing.
“I’d love to win on the WorldTour. Any time trial up to 15km I’ve got a good capacity for so maybe (Tour de) Romandie. This year I was seventh and I think I can handle those sort of races.
“The nice thing is that Trek see that it’s not just one or two riders that can win races.”
Reflecting on an eventful decade-long career on the bike as he embarks on another two-year contract, Clarke said he would change nothing.
“Sometimes you have regrets that you could have done things better but not many people get the chance to be professional athletes.
“It was always something in my mind that I wanted to be an athlete although originally it was football, then running, then cycling and I noticed straight away that I was a bit stronger than most other locals so had a bit of ability. Then I realised I was a bit stronger than most guys in the National Road Series so could go pro.”