Clarke’s big chance
NO DARREN MATTHEWS. No Jamol Eastmond. No steep climbs.
Then there’s no doubt Simon Clarke should be in the runnings again.
Cycling’s former road race king will be looking to shake off his poor form at the start of the year and reclaim his seat among the sport’s elite as the season shifts to the Constant, St George course for tomorrow’s circuit race.
His long-awaited return to form serves as the major headline going into the year’s fourth road race, which will be missing the Argentina-bound Eastmond and Matthews – currently cycling’s biggest names.
It’s a turnaround from last season’s start, where no name carried more weight than Clarke’s after the then reigning national champ started the year with five victories in six starts.
But the man who once had more wins on the road than Edwin Yearwood hasn’t tasted victory in ten months, having sat out the second half of 2011 due to a wrist injury and a falling out with the Barbados Cycling Union.
And Clarke’s return to the road has been anything but flattering, with the two-time road race king picking up just one podium finish in three listless starts thus far.
However, those struggles could come to an end quite quickly as the fairly flat Constant circuit should favour his talents, rather unlike the previous three undulating courses.
He probably still won’t start as the pre-race favourite, though, not after Russell Elcock’s impressive start to his debut senior season that has seen the one-time dominant junior cop three successive runners-up finishes.
The Fugen standout will be licking his chops too with rival Eastmond – the winner of the first two races – overseas competing at the Pan Am Cycling Championships.
The status of Antiguan national champ Jyme Bridges, who won the last criterium two weeks ago, is also unclear, thus improving Elcock’s chances of a first-place run.
It won’t be without challenges, as veteran Greg Downie is due for a podium finish after taking last year’s season-ending event, while Mario Forde and Ross Callender will be lurking in the shadows.
Stuart Maloney, Esther Miller-Rosemond and Jesse Kelly start the masters’, women’s and juniors’ divisions respectively as heavy pre-race favourites following comfortable wins two weeks ago, while Edwin Sutherland resumes his juvenile rivalry with Joshua Kelly.
Dominant young cyclist Ajani Miller will be looking to make it three wins in a row in the Tiny Mite category.
The race starts outside St George’s Secondary at 2:30 p.m.