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Simon Clarke lands final-hour deal with Israel-Premier Tech

Veteran Australian joins new teammates at pre-season camp just days after penning a deal to keep him in the WorldTour.

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Simon Clarke, the veteran Australian left without a contract at the end of 2021, signed a late-hour deal to join Israel-Premier Tech.

Clarke’s arrival closes out the newly branded Israel-Premier Tech roster with 31 riders for 2022.

“We had spoken to Simon in previous years so when the opportunity to sign Simon presented itself, we jumped at the chance,” said team manager Kjell Carlström. “Simon will not only play an important role in helping our team leaders to win, but he will also have the chance to go for personal results. We see him adding significant value through his ability to contribute to the team’s results.”

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Clarke, 35, was among several riders caught out from the collapse of the Qhubeka-NextHash team, which shuttered last month.

A winner of two stages at the Vuelta a España, the all-rounder Clarke said he was holding out hope to land a new contract for 2022, but time was running out.

The confirmation of Premier Tech as co-sponsor of the Israeli team opened a final-hour opportunity for Clarke, who said he wasn’t ready to retire.

“Firstly, I’m happy to have found a team. But secondly, I’m happy to have ended up in a team that I would have chosen to go to in the normal transfer window,” Clarke said. “So I’m not only happy that I can keep racing in the WorldTour, but happy with where I have ended up.”

“As tough of a situation it was, there were still positives to take out of it. This has taught me that you need to make the most of every opportunity, never leave a stone unturned, and race every race as though it may be your last,” he said. “Because it actually could be. So, I’m extra motivated after having a bit of a period of reflection and I’m keen to get back at it and make the most of it with Israel-Premier Tech.”