Simon Clarke’s hunt for a contract is almost over with the veteran Australian on the verge of signing a one-year deal with Israel-Premier Tech. Clarke has been looking for a team ever since it was confirmed that Team Qhubeka NextHash were set to fold last December.
Clarke, a former winner of two stages and the King of the Mountains jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, has raced for a number of WorldTour teams during his long career and is known for his tactical skills and in-race leadership. He was part of the ISD Neri squad before spending a single season at Astana in 2011. Four years at Orica GreenEDGE followed before he moved to Cannondale Drapac/EF Pro Cycling, where he took on the role of road captain.
He signed a contract with Team Qhubeka NextHash for 2021 and 2022 but with the team folding so late in the year his options were limited. He had put his faith in the team surviving for another season but the management were unable to secure sufficient sponsorship funds.
This season Clarke finished eighth in Strade Bianche before battling back from serious injury to find some form in the second half of the year. He picked up a top-ten on one of the hardest stages of the Tour of Britain and then took fifth at the Primus Classic.
In an interview with CyclingTips in December, Clarke said that finding a WorldTour contract at this point in the season would be difficult but after links with several teams, including Cofidis, it looks as though Clarke has been handed a lifeline with a contract close to being finalised with Israel Start-Up Nation. A final decision is expected in the coming days according to a source close to the deal.
“I think it’s going to be difficult. The first difficulty is just finding WorldTour teams that actually have any spots left, because there’s obviously a UCI limit. A vast majority of the teams are actually at capacity so even if they were interested, they couldn’t or don’t have the possibility to take on another rider,” Clarke told CyclingTips.
"So I’m kinda looking at all the teams that might have a spot left and seeing what their situation is. And then there’s obviously a financial part to that, what it costs the team to have another rider on. Hopefully we can work something out, but it’s not easy for sure."
Israel-Premier Tech – the home of four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome – recently announced that they had signed a sponsorship deal with Canadian firm Premier Tech.
The team have signed a number of experienced riders in the transfer market this season, including Jakob Fuglsang, Giacomo Nizzolo, and Hugo Houle. Corbin Strong, 21, has been signed from the SEG Racing Academy.
Clarke would become their 31st rider in the 2022 roster.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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