The image of Simon Clarke and Alessandro De Marchi crossing the Giro d’Italia stage 6 finish line together arm in arm isn’t something you see every day. The former teammates may not be wearing the same colors anymore but today, they may as well have been.
Clarke and De Marchi came brutally close to fighting each other for the win in a two-man sprint. But, in the most brutal of circumstances, the duo was caught with 200 meters to go, when the peloton came barreling through the finish line with Pedersen winning the sprint in Napoli.
Originally part of the day’s five-man breakaway, they dropped their companions inside the final 70 kilometers and somehow managed to maintain a two-minute advantage for the final 90 minutes. A 30-second gap with three kilometers to go gave hope but ultimately, the duo missed just a handful of seconds to make it.
Disappointed was etched on their faces.
“I dreamt of this victory for many years now. I’ve been second, third, and fourth in a stage and it would have been amazing to add a stage victory as well but it wasn’t to be today,” said Clarke. “We just gave it everything. We needed 10 more seconds and that was it. We gave it everything. We actually got further than we maybe should have. Alessandro was really strong and I tried to go turn for turn with him all the way to the finish. We put up a good fight but we were just a few hundred meters short.”
Cycling is a game of legs and luck but at the end of the day, it was two men against a hundred under the flamme rouge in Napoli.
“I tried to pull as long as I could and I know Alessandro didn’t come through on the last kilometer but that’s the game we play and I have to say thanks to him because without him I wouldn’t even have arrived this close to a stage victory. We know each other very well. I know how strong he is and once I was in the breakaway with him today, I knew that we could give it a big crack at staying away.”
Clarke can take motivation from his form and knowing there are still 15 stages to go, this won’t be the last time we see him on the attack.
“It is devastating to be caught so close to the line. It would probably have been better to be caught with 10 kilometers to go, rather than 200 meters. But you can’t win them all. Tomorrow is another day. I just keep working hard. Every year, I work a little harder. I don’t look at how old I am I just keep working harder than ever and that enables me to perform like today.”