The Tour of Margaret River in West Australia is a one-of-a-kind bike race that requires participants to develop a strong and cohesive team.
With two team time-trials amongst the four-stages, not to mention that a teams' stage result is determined by the sum of the first three team members to cross the finish-line in the two road stages, this is an event that is all about team-work.
For Iain Clarke and his mates, who came from all over the world, it was a race that required them to develop team cohesion as quickly as possible.
Having earned a stellar individual performance on the third-stage, that finished with a nasty climb, Iain put in an second incredible effort, that day, to help power his team to glory in the Stage 4 Team Time-Trial.
Following four tough stages, in just three-days or racing, plus a stage win to call his own, we caught up with Iain to talk about the Tour of Margaret River, his success, and training in a 4-Question Athlete Profile interview, enjoy!
The final climb of the Stage 3 road race was a brute, touching steeps of more than 20%. Photo Credit: Daniela Tommasi Photography.
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 8-10/hrs
Upcoming Goals: The 2018 Season
Question #1: Congratulations on a great ride at the Tour of Margaret River, Iain! You had a season-best individual result on Stage 3 and lead the team to a win in the Stage 4 Team Time-Trial. How did the races go?
Iain Clarke: I was really pleased with the last 2 stages at ToMR
- the 3rd stage was an undulating 75km route with about 850M of climbing. The final 800M of the stage held an average of 12%!
I was in the lead bunch of approximately 25-riders as we approached the final climb and didn't know how I would fare against my competitors.
It was hard going up this climb, especially as some parts were over 20%, but I managed to bite down on the handlebars and finish well inside the top 10, earning valuable points for my team.
On Stage 4, which was the second TTT, our team would be timed on the 4th rider across the line. Luckily, we had 4 riders (out of our team of 6) who were feeling pretty strong so we managed to clock a time over a minute faster than the team below us!
As the other stages, this too was rolling hills, so it included plenty of ups and downs - lots of communication kept us together as we all pushed hard to take out the stage. We were very excited!
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: The final two-stages of the Tour of Margaret River were held on the same day, thus it was a double-day.
Iain and I had discussed this and emulated it in training before the race, so I was not surprised when he told me performed so well on stages 3 & 4.
However, I must say I was so excited for him, and his team, upon hearing the results!
That fact that he both had a great individual result and helped drive the team to a big stage win in the TTT is awesome.
It was an incredible effort!
Question #2: The Tour of Margaret River was a three-day, four-stage event, with two team time-trials in it. What was the hardest stage for you and the team and why?
IC: The hardest stage for me was Stage 2, which was relatively short at just over 50km, but it had 2 big climbs the first being just 3km into the race.
The second climb, which was a brute, was toward the end of the race at just over 40km in.
The weather was also pretty fierce with my Garmin hitting 40 degrees centigrade at one point (nearly 104*F for those of us stateside).
Coach Brian: Living and training in Singapore, Iain definitely gets plenty of time riding in the heat and humidity, but that never seems to make it any easier!
We knew it would be hot on at least one of the stages, so Iain and I talked a lot about hydration and nutrition requirements in order to minimize the chances he would get depleted.
His Stage 3 & 4 success would not have been possible if he had not looked after himself well, and recovered properly, following a sweltering second stage.
What I am most proud of is that Iain didn’t let a tough day in the saddle discourage him. As the saying goes, it is darkest before dawn, and Iain bounced back to have a season-best performance on the Stage 3 road race.
Well done, buddy!
Crossing the finish line in the front-group on Stage 3 was a big success for Iain Clarke. He turned himself inside out to make it happen! Photo Credit: Iain Clarke.
Question #3: What is one of your long-term cycling goals? And what is next on your cycling ‘to do’ list?
IC: I'm a relative newcomer to cycling, having only been riding for just over 2.5 years, so my main goals are around self-improvement.
My goal is to improve and get stronger so that I can compete at the “sharp-end” of the races I enter.
I would also like to try and qualify for the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships.
Coach Brian: Following his performance at the Tour of Margaret River, there are so many positives to talk about, but I still had to ask, what could be better?
Iain is a driven Athlete, doing three or more of his workouts per week on the indoor-trainer. He does this while balancing a busy work schedule that includes significant world travel, so we are always looking for ways to help him improve with the limited time he has.
With that said, and his goal to compete at the “sharp-end” of the races on his calendar, I've got some ideas of ways we can help him take his race-day performance "up a notch" next year, and throughout 2018!
Question #4: Describe your favorite workout in your training program, also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with Big Wheel Coaching.
IC: I tend to try and ride 5-times a week, with 3 of those rides taking place on my Wahoo KICKR - so my favorite training rides tend to be relatively high intensity, short duration interval sessions.
Although I also like “settling-in” to longer Tempo intervals.
The higher intensity workouts take a lot of effort and my recovery time following each workout tends to be a little longer… which brings me to the 2nd part of the question around 'knowledge bombs'.
For me the biggest learning I've had has been around nutrition and recovery.
In terms of nutrition I have had to learn to bring enough fuel for the harder training rides and then make sure I dedicate enough time to recovery.
It feels counter intuitive but taking time off the bike is so important.
Coach Brian: That is a great “knowledge-bomb”, Iain!
Most Athletes will do all the hard work you ask of them, but so often the recovery gets neglected.
This is extra important following high-intensity work, but is extra important as we age.
Younger riders tend to recover from high-intensity efforts quickly, but the more mature-Athlete can take twice as long, or longer, to recover from a similar dose of training.
Iain's team was so fast on the Stage 4 TTT that they over-took, and passed, the team in front of them. It was a display of great team-work. Photo Credit: Beardy McBeard Photography.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Iain Clarke’s success at the Tour of Margaret River and it has inspired you to add a “bucket-list” type event to your 2018 calendar.
With the Christmas holiday upon us, and 2018 right around the corner, it is already time to start thinking about goals and events for next season!
At Big Wheel Coaching, we love this time of year as it affords us the opportunity to talk, not just about what lies ahead, but what is possible for our each of our Athletes.
It is our passion to help you take your cycling to the next-level!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching