#insideOGE: Simon Clarke, Giro d'Italia stage 3

Tue 12 May 2015

Welcome to the fourth edition of #insideOGE and the second edition from the 2015 Giro d’Italia.

Uniquely captured by the magnificent lens of ‘Kramon’, #insideOGE opens up the doors to ORICA-GreenEDGE to bring you the stories you don’t otherwise see or hear.

To view previous editions of the series, use the links below.

#insideOGE: Esteban Chaves, Giro d’Italia stage 1 TTT
#insideOGE: Sam Bewley, Paris-Roubaix
#insideOGE: Luke Durbridge, Gent Wevelgem

Welcome back #insideOGE. We hope you enjoy.

The nature of cycling means you lose a lot more days than you win.

It makes you savior any victory, let alone one at a Grand Tour.  But there is something extra special about a performance like yesterdays.

When an entire outfit commits so completely to a team plan and executes it so faultlessly, it is something unique. And it’s something that ORICA-GreenEDGE is able to produce like no other.

In this piece, Simon Clarke, who spent much of yesterday as a team security guard, goes some way to explaining the tactics and that distinctive environment.

“It’s important that you respect the team plan that’s agreed on the bus and don’t divert from that,” Clarke said. “When you do that and execute it properly you get pretty special days and a team performance like we had yesterday.”

“We were on the world stage with the whole world watching and the fact that Esteban Chaves and I were up the road and weren’t thinking about our own chances of getting the pink jersey, which was possible for either of us, makes this team pretty special.”

It’s an environment that is much talked about but few can emulate. What’s secret?

“There’s definitely an Aussie factor that contributes to our team performance,” Clarke suggests. “There’s really great comradery and everyone is great mates, which you don’t always get in European cycling teams with so many different nations.”

“The beauty is that even though people don’t realise there is more foreign riders in our team than Australians, but we have been able to maintain that Australian mentality.

“To be able to ride around in our Orica jersey today and be proud to have that jersey on because of how well we rode yesterday as a whole team is a special feeling.

“You can tell that there are a lot of guys from other teams that envy our team and one, wish that they could ride with us, or two, wish that their team had the comradery that our team does, which is the main key to a lot of our success.”

As the peloton rolled out of Rapallo yesterday, ORICA-GreenEDGE had nine riders with a clear plan. For some in the online world it was confusing, but internally it was clear.

“Today’s stage was one that the best form of defence was by attacking and being aggressive because if at any stage today we were on the back foot it could have got very nasty for us,” Clarke explained.

“Obviously Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews were assigned to sit back and wait for the sprint and Esteban and I, being the guys that were still on the same time on general classification, were to jump up the road and take the pressure off the team.

“The only time you saw us contributing was to make peace in the breakaway because no breakaway likes it when people sit on. The problem is if you sit on, it creates splits in the break and we end up having to chase the front half of the break anyway. So often it’s just a little bit easier to roll through and keep the peace. Still take it as easy as possible but be cooperative.”

Then, that time to cooperate comes to a halt as the final steps of the plan are executed.

“Coming down to the last 25km where it was to be brought back to the sprint Pieter Weening started riding from behind and that was our cue to no longer contribute,” Clarke continued.

“Once you’ve sat on as much as you can and then get caught you want to make sure the team plan works properly. The last thing you want is to be caught and then have someone jump away with a kilometre to go and it’s not the sprint you’d plan for. 

“If you are still at the front of the bike race, your job is not over until to you cross the finish line.”

And when it all comes off, it’s a sweet sight to see the arms of Michael Matthews in the pink jersey rise above the bunch to salute a perfect day.