The announcement by the Luxembourg 'team without a name' of the signing of Will Clarke is yet another pointer to the health of road cycling in Australia.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

The announcement by the Luxembourg 'team without a name' of the signing
of Will Clarke is yet another pointer to the health of road
cycling in Australia.

A couple of weeks ago it was Cameron Wurf signing with Liquigas. Today it was fellow Tasmanian, Clarke.

At
this rate how long before we have an all Tassie ProTour squad? The
Sulzberger brothers, Wesley and Bernie, Richie Porte, Matthew Goss,
Clarke, Wurf.....am I missing any?

Its been said before but if
the Apple Isle isn't the world's greatest producer of cycling talent
per-capita it has to be close to the top.

Both Wurf and Clarke
are latecomers to the sport, with Wurf abandoning an elite career in
rowing with the national squad to chase a different dream and Clarke beginning at 22.

Saxo Bank's Richie Porte was himself
was a latecomer to cycling - with triathlon's loss, Bjarne Riis' gain.

All
proving that these days, living in Australia is no barrier to success
as a professional cyclist and that there are many pathways to Europe.

This
is important in the context of a debate we have had this week here on Cycling
Central
, with Michael Drapac, principal of Drapac Professional
Racing making some strong points about the Tour Down
Under and the national racing calendar.

Of Drapac's statements
the one that caught my eye was his point about the development of a
'vigorous teams based culture' in Australia.

"The second point,
you'd have kids who could stay home," said Drapac. This is one of the
great tragedies. Look at how many kids today in Australia who are 18
years of age are full-time bike riders. Look at how many of them had to
go and try their luck in Europe."

"If we had a vigorous
teams-based culture in Australia – in other words instead of going
backwards from 10 (teams) to four in the past few years it went from 10
to 15, you'd have a number of kids who could stay home, be paid, be
developed in their own country and be in career development, tertiary
education."

Agreed! And Clarke's projection into Europe is one example of how this would work.

Riding for the local Genesys
Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling Team team, Clarke was allowed the time and
space to develop, learn his trade and post some results, important as a
latecomer to the sport.

From there a 'stagiaires'
contract with Ag2r was offered, and now a ride with the looming
powerhouse of professional cycling following the intervention of Stuart
O'Grady.

As Genesys manager Andrew Christie-Johnston said on the
team's website following the announcement of Clarke's late season ride
with Ag2R: "This is great for Will, he belongs in the Pro-Tour so
hopefully this will see him gain a contract for 2011.

"Genesys
Pro Cycling is a development team, this is what we are all about. We
have always been happy to see our riders grow and go on to bigger and
better things and it just proves that we are succeeding in our mission
and the ten years of hard work are starting to bear fruit."

As I
see it Australian road cycling is performing at a very high level.

The
National Road Series is developing (fans really should follow this
great racing closely, this past season has been an absolute cracker), Drapac, Jayco,
Genesys, Budget Forklifts, Virgin Blue RBS Morgans and the still in stealth mode Pure Tasmania team are doing their
part to develop a structure and riders, and Cycling Australia working with all parties
to continue this success.

We have a ProTour event in the Tour
Down Under and are this close to having our very
own ProTeam. The glass isn't just half-full, it is full to the brim -
though sometimes it may not look like it from the coalface.

More
importantly though the riders are highly motivated and that's where
success begins.