January will be a Linkedin on wheels for Australian professional cyclist Simon Clarke.
Following the demise of his team in the WorldTour, the 35-year-old will treat next month’s domestic races as a way to showcase his talents to potential employers.
Clarke is scrambling for a new contract after Team Qhubeka confirmed at the weekend that it could not continue in the WorldTour – the top tier of men’s pro road cycling.
One of Australian cycling’s most respected competitors is halfway through a two-year deal with the team.
Now Clarke hopes strong form at the Lexus of Brighton Bay Classic criteriums, the road nationals and the Santos of Festival Of Cycling will help prod a WorldTour team into throwing him a career lifeline.
“I’m obviously a bit stressed about the whole thing, but we knew about the uncertainty … this situation was a possibility,” he said.
“But until we got a proper answer from Qhubeka, it’s difficult to go out and sell yourself somewhere else.
“Now that’s happened, I’m doing what I can.
“Hopefully by the end of this Australian period, I can find a solution.”
Clarke will race in composite teams at the Bay Classic and the Festival Of Cycling, while there are no formal professional lineups at the nationals.
He said only five WorldTour teams have filled their rosters, but finances and the impact of COVD-19 might leave them reluctant to hire more riders.
Clarke said there are plenty of opportunities for him once he retires, but at 35 he is not ready to pull the pin yet.
His career includes two stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana, a top-10 finish at the world road championships and competing at the Rio Olympics.
But Clarke’s main strength is as a road captain, coordinating teammates and tactics mid-race.
“I’ve actually had quite a few people approach me already with opportunities that don’t involve me racing my bike – so I have more opportunities to stop than racing my bike,” he said.
“I’m not trying to hang onto my cycling career because it’s my only option, I’m trying to continue it because it’s my passion and I don’t feel like I’ve finished with the sport yet.
“I feel like I have more to give.
Compatriots Rob Power and Dylan Sunderland, 10 years his junior, are fellow Qhubeka teammates looking for new contracts.
“I really feel for those younger guys,” he said.