The 2006 USPRO criterium champion Hilton Clarke (Navigators Insurance) was not feeling 100 percent in his title defense, as a rotated pelvis sidelined him for the most of July and into August. However, Clarke's strong performances before that has netted him a contract with Toyota-United for 2008. On top of that, his little brother Jonathan is also signing for the team, after riding in Europe and the US this year.
"Toyota decided to sign me and my younger brother," Clarke told Cyclingnews before the criterium nationals. When asked if bringing him and his brother together was his idea or the team's, he said, "It was a bit of both, but the deal for me and him is a great one and I'm really excited!"
The younger Clarke has been riding for the Colavita-Sutter Home team in the States for the second part of the season, after starting his year in Europe. "He's had an up-and-down year. He had a great start in Europe but then struggled a bit, so I got him onto Colavita here this year and he's had some great opportunities there. He did Altoona and all these crits and straight away he was picked up by Toyota."
Jonathan even bested his brother in the USPRO criterium championship, taking 26th place when finishing at all was a triumph. But Hilton had a reason for his early withdrawal from the race he won last year. "I've had some issues this past month so I missed a lot of training," he said. "I flew to Belgium last month to sort my body out and it's alright now. It was a rotated pelvis from a crash in Basking Ridge [New Jersey] right before Philly. I won Bike Jam and Somerville, then I crashed."
"But I don't want that to be why I am signing for a different team - I've had such a great year, and three good years on Navigators. I want to finish strong for [Navigators.]" MZ