PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : ISD’s Simon Clarke Talks About First Sanremo

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ISD’s Simon Clarke Talks About First Sanremo
Young Australian, Simon Clarke (ISD) was sitting comfortably with the leaders into the last hour of the Primavera when a crash saw him sprawled on the tarmac. Despite that, he was still ISD’s best finisher, in 32nd place at 1:35 – Simon took time on Sunday to tell PEZ about his seven hour shift in the saddle on Saturday.

PEZ: You were right there ’til the crash, Simon.
Yeah, it was a silly crash – the road narrowed, the bunch hit the brakes, I was behind Thomas Lovkvist, he braked too hard and I couldn’t avoid him.

It was a pity, I was feeling pretty good.

I was worried if I’d come out of Tirreno tired – even the seasoned pros were complaining about how tough it was – but I was fine after the three days rest between the two races.

ISD’s Simon Clarke.

PEZ: What was the ISD game plan?
Visconti is always our main man but he had to pull out of Tirreno with hip flexor problems – he spent the whole week before San Remo trying to get that sorted out but we weren’t sure how he would go. The plan was to set things up for him; but the way I was looking at it, was that I would ride my own race and if Visconti was still there on the Cipressa, I’d be in a position to help him – or to take up my own options, if he wasn’t.

Giovanni Visconti.

PEZ: Grabovsky did a job for ISD – prime TV time.
He’s a really strong rider – and he’s only just started to race properly. He had a few personal issues and ISD weren’t going to re-sign him. But he approached the boss – Luca Scinto – and said that he wanted to get himself sorted out. Luca felt that he was genuine and he has another chance to prove himself. I raced against him as an amateur – he was awesome!

PEZ: How did Visconti finish?
About six minutes down, but one of the things at ISD is that we don’t put all our eggs in one basket.


PEZ: You were best ISD finisher.
Yeah, 32nd at 1:35 – but I was still with the front group until about one K to the summit of the Poggio, when Gilbert and Mick Rogers started to jump around.

PEZ: But if you hadn’t crashed, there’s a good chance you’d have been with the leaders?
For sure, but I was just happy to get through seven hours without hunger flatting.

PEZ: How was La Manie?
We were good there, we had me, Visconti, Gatto, Grabovsky and one of our domestiques after the split – Katyusha really went for it, up there. I looked around and could see that the sprinters were really hurting.

PEZ: Cipressa?
It’s all about how you begin on the Cipressa – you have to be at the front. Coming into the climb, I saw a gap and shot through it, that took me well up – but if you’re behind, it’s a nitemare. If you’re in the right position, it’s not so bad. I’d been told that the descent of the Cipressa is just as dangerous for splits; so I sprinted over the top to get a good position. I was on Cancellara’s wheel, so I thought – this’ll do fine!

Cancellara’s wheel is not a bad place to be!

PEZ: And the Poggio?
There weren’t really attacks on the climbs, they were very fast, but steady – no surging. I went as long as I could, I slipped at one K before the top; but the team was really happy with my finish.

PEZ: Modolo in fourth was a surprise?
Not that much of a surprise, I raced against him at Tirreno; for a first year pro he was going very well – he’s fast!

Sacha Modolo.

PEZ: 300 K?
I’ve ridden Melbourne to Warrnambool back home in Australia, that’s a similar distance, but you can’t compare an Aussie domestic race to this. I was pleased with how I went.

PEZ: What do you do the day after a race like San Remo?
After the race, I stayed with Wez Sulzberger in Monaco; we did three hours today – my legs were OK.

PEZ: How was Tirreno?
It was a good experience, 1250 K in one week at Pro Tour speed was a new level for me.

Simon Clarke.

PEZ: You were with Amica Chips last year.
I was with them for three months and then they folded, we did 1.1 and HC races, but no Pro Tour races. I spent the second half of the season with ISD. There were 25-odd people looking for a job when Amica folded but I was lucky that Luca Scinto was a pro with Mapei and the company still sponsors the Australian Under 23 team – so there was a connection, there. They were happy with how I rode for them, so I was retained for this year.

PEZ: Does Cipo have much to do with the team?
Up until the Eroica, I didn’t see him, but he’s been at all the races, since. We had him on the radio for the Eroica – that was pretty inspirational. He’s a nice guy, he has the time of day for everyone and shows an interest in everyone’s results.

The one and only.

PEZ: Where’s ‘home’ in Europe?
Varese – I lived there for four years with the Aussie national programme, I couldn’t see a reason to move. I get to use the Aussie facilities – doctor, masseur, physio and gym. I’m moving in to a brand new apartment, there – right across the road from the gardens where the Lombardia starts.

PEZ: Next up?
The Coppi-Bartali on Tuesday.

PEZ: And does the Primavera entitle you to a beer, in the evening?
We drove back to Monaco, had some dinner and were tucked up in bed by ten – we were too tired for a beer! But the occasional beer is good, you have to let you hair down, now and again!

For sure, Simon – with thanks to Sr. Clarke for his time. Hopefully, we’ll catch up with him again, soon.


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