Despite riding without a team, Midlands rider David Clarke has been holding his own in Premier Calendar races this season

How did you get involved in cycling?
DC: My granddad was into it and when I was just four or five I used to watch the Tour de France on telly. It progressed from there: I went out with my brother and granddad on their bikes and then got more into racing.

How would you describe your racing style?
I ride aggressively because I?m a climber rather than a sprinter. I need to get into breaks ? I?m not going to win a bunch gallop.

How much training do you do?
It varies. Sometimes I do up to
40 hours a week in the winter. I once rode from Land?s End to
John o? Groats in a week too.

Just for the hell of it?
Yeah, something to pass the time in the middle of November. We averaged about 150 miles a day.

Is the travelling involved part of the appeal of the sport?
If I see the opportunity to ride somewhere else, I usually take it. I think I?ve raced in 28 different countries now.

Which of those countries has been the most interesting?
We did the Tour of Cameroon one year, which was pretty different. We spent 20 hours in a bus transferring from the north to the south along this dirt track that was supposed to be the country?s main motorway!

You?re not in a team this year. Does that make racing more difficult than usual?
It can. The last few British races have been quite team-dominated, so you?ve got to calculate your effort a bit better.

How do you get by financially?
I speak nicely to my mum and I?ve got a few private sponsors, but the main thing is I try not to spend too much.

Is it ever difficult being of mixed heritage in a white-dominated sport?
Cycling?s very white orientated in Europe but that?s not the case in places like South America. It hasn?t really affected me in any way and I?ve never noticed any big prejudices against me.

Should clubs and organisations do more to encourage greater ethnic diversity in cycling?
I think everyone should be encouraged equally but in Europe there are very few black or mixed-race role models in the sport.

Who are your role models?
Bernard Hinault, Robert Millar and Greg LeMond stand out. Recently, I?ve just tended to favour anyone who has an aggressive race style.

What interests do you have when you?re away from cycling?
I buy and sell cars, customise VW Golfs, do the odd engine transplant and things like that. It?s a bit like cycling in that it?s really frustrating when you?re doing it but you get enjoyment out of it when, or if, you finish it.

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