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Interview: Will Clarke - Australian On The Rise
By Chris Graetz
Date: 1/31/2010
Interview: Will Clarke - Australian On The Rise

Interview: Will Clarke – Australian On The Rise
Young Australian cyclist, William Clarke, talks to Chris Graetz about his impressive career to date and his future ambitions.

The series of interviews continues, this time with Australian domestic rider, Will Clarke. A Tasmanian athlete, born 11/4/1985, Will has shown brilliant athletic ability being a successful 400 and 800 metre runner before taking up cycling.

He burst onto the scene claiming a solid victory in a strong Australian race, the Goulburn to Citi in 2008, not long after he signed with Praties, a cycling team, based in Tasmania. (Now known as Genesys Wealth Advisers/Praties Cycling team).

In 2009, he showed his ability winning four races and also the Cycling Australia National Road Series – an annual award in which riders accumulate points during the year in selected Australian races.

2010 is set to be a promising year for Clarke and it started with a bang being the most consistent rider at the Australian National Championships, claiming a medal for his hard work and dedication. He rode well without success in the Tour of Wellington, including launching a solo breakaway attempt. A win isn’t far away for the talented rider.

Below are Clarke’s impressive palmares and expect them to grow as the 2010 season kicks on.

Selected Palmares

1st – Goulburn – Citi
3rd – Tour of Tasmania – Stage 4
3rd – Mersey Valley Tour – Stage 1
3rd – Mersey Valley Tour – Stage 2
4th – Mersey Valley Tour – General Classification
1st – Canberra Tour – Stage 1
1st – Canberra Tour – General Classification
1st – Tour of Geelong – Stage 4
3rd – Tour of Geelong – General Classification
3rd – Tour of the Murray River – Stage 6
2nd – Grafton – Invernell
4th – Goulburn – Citi
2nd – Stage 5 – Tour of Tasmania
3rd – Shipwreck Coast Classic
1st – National Road Series
1st – Launceston International Cycling Classic
4th – National Time Trial
3rd – National Criterium
9th – National Road Race
5th – Tour of Wellington – Stage 3

Will Clark celebrates victory in the 2009 Tour of Canberra.

Chris Graetz: How did you first get into cycling, who was instrumental in this?

Will Clarke: I first got into cycling just before my 22nd birthday in 2007. I bought a bike because I had been injured from running for a while. I was recovering from a navicular stress fracture in my leg and I couldn’t run - I rode because it didn’t put any pressure on my injury.

Soon I got the bug for it and went along to a "Bums on seats Race" - racing designed for beginners to learn the ropes about the sport. It was only a 37km handicap but I managed to get the fastest time and just missed out on winning. It is run by an older but experienced cyclist called Peter Fraser from Launceston.

Peter really encouraged me early on and told me that I had a lot of talent. I kind of laughed at him to start with because I still thought I was a runner just keeping fit, but that soon changed and I became a cyclist. I met a guy called Tim Elmer out at my first cycling Tasmania Open Race. He was a really strong rider in his day and still is. He won the Victorian 200km championship 2008 aged in his 40’s and he took me under his wing and trained me and helped me develop from a C grade rider to an A grade rider in a bit over 6 months.

Chris Graetz: You were a big athletics star before you turned to cycling, can you shed more light into your other talents?

Will Clarke: Haha! I don’t think I have many other talents, but I seem to be reasonable at most sports like football and swimming. I did a lot of sport when I was at school - that is what I enjoyed doing.

Chris Graetz: Who were your heroes growing up and who are they now?

Will Clarke: I used to love AFL football as a kid so I Idolized the Melbourne Demons. I admired all the great middle distance runners like Steve Ovett and Seb Coe and the battles they had even though it all happened before my time, and in cycling I really like the classics guys. If I could be any cyclist it would be Fabian Cancellara - he is amazing.

Chris Graetz: You have ridden for Praties, how have they helped you develop as a cyclist?

Will Clarke: I have been riding for Praties since August 08. They picked me up from the local racing scene here in Tasmania where we race a lot of handicaps. I had some success against their riders and Andrew Christie-Johnson and Steve Price, the owners of Praties took me on. I would say that they have been instrumental in my development as a cyclist. Without them, I would not have had the exposure to the competition that I have had in such a short space of time. They have really helped me develop quickly.

Chris Graetz: Tell me about your first win and how did it feel?

Will Clarke: My First Race win was the PE Green Memorial Handicap in Cressy in the Northern Midlands of Tasmania, not far from my home town of Campbelltown. It was back in May 2007 I was riding C grade and I managed to stay away with anther C grade rider and win in a two up sprint. It was a great feeling to win that race. I was probably just as excited then as I get now when I win a bigger race. I have a photo of it stuck on my fridge. But my big breakthrough was in September 08 when I won the Goulburn to Citi in a breakaway sprint soon after Praties had taken me on board. That felt amazing.

Chris Graetz: Last year was great for you with one of your many highlights, claiming the National Road Series Championship. How pleased were you on last year's results and how has it set you up for this year?

Will Clarke: I am happy with my results from last year, There were a few times where I got a bit sick and run down which hindered me a little - like when we came back from the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July. I wasn’t in great condition, but I felt I was consistent and gained results throughout most of the races I went too. But I always want to do better.

Chris Graetz: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Will Clarke: I think my strengths are my ability to ride hard for long periods of time. My weaknesses are that I can often get a bit carried away and I tend to waste energy at times when I don’t need to. However, as I develop more, I will learn how to deal with that.

Will Clarke on his way to winning the Launceston International Cycling Classic

Chris Graetz: You have been the most consistent rider at the National Championships and have come away with a medal. How pleased are you with your performance?

Will Clarke: I am happy with my Nationals campaign. I had good form coming off winning the Launceston Cycling Classic and the Burnie New Years Eve Criterium. I went there knowing I could do well. I really wanted to go to the Tour Down Under and compete in the Uni-SA team. I had the legs to do this but I just needed a bit of luck in the road race.

Chris Graetz: What type of rider are you?

Will Clarke:I’m a bit of an all rounder - but my sprinting and time trialing is probably better than my climbing. I just sort of try and hang in there and it is something I think I need to work on. I think my strengths are longer stage races and one day races. I seem to do better at these than the shorter races we do a lot of.

Chris Graetz: What are your hobbies besides cycling?

Will Clarke: I like reading, I have an interest in history and I like watching most sports and going to the beach and relaxing.

Chris Graetz: Tasmania have produced some good talent and one of your friends, Richie Porte has turned professional. How much of a lift is it you to try and follow in his footsteps?

Will Clarke: Tassie has produced its fair share of cyclists over the years, particularly Matthew Goss and Wesley Sulzberger. It’s definitely inspiring to see one of your friends join the Pro Tour ranks. It shows me that it’s not impossible and it can be done. I hope to follow Richie's lead.

Will Clark looking strong in the Launceston International Cycling Classic

Chris Graetz: What is your racing schedule this year?

Will Clarke: I’m not 100% sure of my schedule this year yet, but the Tour of Wellington is my first international race. I will have a sit down with my coach Matt Gilmore to see what I should do next, but I will be doing most of the domestic racing when that kicks off in later in the year.

Chris Graetz: What are your season goals?

Will Clarke: My season goals are to race overseas and win some races and get selected for the Commonweatlh Games or World Championship teams for later in the year. Both would be good. Another goal is just keep on getting better and better.

Chris Graetz: What are your longer term goals?

Will Clarke: My longer term goals are to represent my country in international events, and get a pro contract and be a professional cyclist.

Will speaks of his goals to get a professional contract. A few more solid results in 2010 could see him on the way to following some of the riders before him. We wish him luck for the remainder of the year and the rest of his career.

Previous Chris Graetz Interviews
Richie Porte – Tasmanian Wheelman On The Move
Richie Porte – Getting Started
Zak Dempster – Bendigo Boy On The Prowl
Cameron Meyer – Young Gun
Giddeon Massie – American Track Cyclist

Next: (Available Now)Hayden Roulston (Columbia-HTC)

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