In His Own Words: Simon Clarke on Il Lombardia

Sun 6 Oct 2013

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) took back-to-back victories at the Giro di Lombardia. The Spaniard soloed across the finish line in Lecco, besting Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 17” and Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) by 23” en route to his second win at the Italian Monument.

Although the sun shone in Bergamo for the start of a long day in the saddle, rain began to fall as the peloton headed toward Lake Como. Michael Albasini slipped clear of the bunch when an early breakaway began to take shape on the lower slopes of the Valico di Valcava. The move was short-lived. By the mid-point of the race, the escape group had rejoined the bunch.

Over the top of the Colle Brianza, Christian Meier rode himself into the next significant move. Twenty-one riders, including Meier, gained an advantage on the peloton but never were able to open a significant gap. The fearsome Colma di Sormano spelled an end to the escape group’s chances and set the scene for a race-ending crash for both Simon Clarke and Pieter Weening.

With team captains Clarke and Weening out of the race, it was game over for ORICA-GreenEDGE. None of the team’s eight starters would finish the gruelling race that saw only 53 riders make it to the finish line.

Clarke checked in from the team bus following his withdrawal to briefly review his day. In his own words, he describes the crash that took him out of his final team race of the season.

The team basically planned to work for me and Weening today. I wasn’t going too badly but just before the Sormano, there was a big crash. Both Pete and I were involved. I pulled the plug immediately. Initially, Pieter continued.

Pete had gotten hit from behind in the back of his leg. When his leg started swelling, that’s when he decided to retire. He was out of the race at that point anyway.

Lombardia is one of the races where you’re either on or you’re not. There’s nothing between. Personally, I think Worlds took a lot out of everyone. Apart from Valverde and Rodriguez, no one else who did well at Worlds could go well today. Everybody was pretty tired after that sort of effort. I know I was. I haven’t recovered from Worlds.”