Anatomy of a prologue win: Ed Clancy

This is a part of a collection of articles that didn’t get published within the past few seasons but I think still hold plenty of interest for the dedicated cycling fan!

Ed Clancy put on a masterclass over the 1.6 kilometre circuit to take out the opening prologue of the 2018 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

Breaking down the technical aspects of the course, Clancy gave a glimpse of what it takes to eke out every fraction of a second, which was a must given the final margin of victory was just .64 of a second over Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen.

The British track star had been focusing on the curtain-raiser to the exclusion of all other stages, just honing in the specifics that could give him the edge on his opposition.

“I haven’t even looked at the next four stages, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this. Almost in a trackie way, you look at the numbers and think ‘what average power can I hold over two minutes’?

“You look at van Poppel’s winning time from last year and think well it doesn’t have this turn in, you have to average a similar sort of speed. Did a bit of calculations and worked out how long it would take. I did my research, I like my numbers.”

The 1.6 kilometre length was what allowed Clancy to take the win, a first at UCI 2.1 level for the three-time Olympic gold medallist on the track.

“I remember reading an article… saying unfortunately they’ve had to shorten the course and I thought ‘doesn’t sound too bad to me’. My eyes lit up.”

“Then I spent a lot of time looking at it on Google Maps, trying to suss out the course, road surface and so on. For a long time I didn’t know if it was going to go on the main road round the boathouse or the pedestrian path.”

Clancy really drilled into the specifics of his one minute fifty-four second effort, looking for a tactical edge and opportunityies to use his power for the optimal outcome.

“There was easy time to be made off the line, easy time to be made accelerating out of that first left-hander, assuming you don’t crash round it.

“I thought with the technical part around the footpath, as long as you commit and hope for the best it would be much of a muchness through there. And then it would come down to a drag race for the finish.”

“I tried hard to invest in the first two accelerations, first acceleration out of the block and the next one out of that left hander and then I was really just hanging on. For the last 500 metres it felt like I was pedaling in sand.”

Clancy spent time in the lead-up utilising technology and doing a bit of course recon when in Melbourne shooting some pictures to promo the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

“Looking at things like Google Earth,” said Clancy, “though I couldn’t see the pedestrian bit. Then when we came down here a couple of weeks ago for a photo shoot, I spent a lot of time scouting out the course. Even things like drain covers and that, I spent a long time eyeing out things like the straights.

“There’s a million ways you can attack a course like this do you sprint right up to the corner and then slam on last minute or do you go hard and then coast to the corner and save some energy?

“I don’t know, it’s worth it though when it comes down to seven tenths of a second. I did my research and I’m glad.”

Clancy shrugged off any suggestion of an ‘Ashes’ style rivalry after claiming a win on Australian soil over past track rivals in Alex Edmondson and Michael Hepburn. There’s been spirited competition with the occasional bit of banter thrown in between the team pursuit squads, but Clancy, who’s been on the winning side of those Olympic tussles, shrugged it off.

“Yeah, the press builds it up a bit but there’s a lot of respect between the Aussies and the Brits on the bike in the team pursuit. I don’t get any pleasure out of beating those guys.”

“When Edmondson was coming down the last two hundred metres and I know the form he’s been in with Aussie nationals, I thought ‘for sure he’s going to do me just on the last bit’. They’re all top guys the Aussie team pursuiters, but to be honest I was hoping he didn’t beat me.”

The JLT Condor rider has been in Australia with the majority of the team for over three weeks as part of the annual team training camp in Bendigo. It’s a now familiar ritual for the British Continental squad (Editor- JLT Condor is no longer operating as a team).

They come down to Australia in January and acquit themselves well in local races, often against in-form Australian and New Zealand opposition who’ve been training all summer to be fit for national championships.

“I’ve been in Bendigo for the last three and a half weeks. Most of the team that came out went away to New Zealand to do the Cycle Classic over there and then come back for a week. Me and Graham Briggs – I think he’d rolled top five in the end – we just stayed in Bendigo and trained throughout.

“It was hot and hard and Graham’s got family back home. It’s been tough, you know, we missed home. I really respect the Aussie guys that go out to be pro cyclists in Europe because it’s not easy being halfway around the world. But when you’re stood here in the yellow jersey answering questions it feels like it’s been worth it.”

“Being in team GB, there always that expectation of going out and winning medals, but on the road, this is all new to a guy like me and perhaps as big as I get.”

It’s strange to think that this may be the pinnacle for Clancy in his road career but the 32 year-old gave everyone a taste of the sort of dedication it takes to win and the level of thought that goes into these very specific efforts.

We’re a new website and not sponsored by anyone yet, but you can show your appreciation by considering donating to the following organisations that are either fighting the Australian bushfires or are helping those affected.

Red Cross Bushfire Appeal
Rural Fire Service (New South Wales)
Country Fire Authority (Victoria)

Written by Jamie Finch-Penninger

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