Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Clarke gave his compatriot a front wheel after he puncture in the finale to stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia

Team Sky’s Richie Porte was saved by Simon Clarke when he punctured in the final kilometers of stage 10, despite his fellow Australian riding for another team.

When Orica-GreenEdge’s Clarke saw his Antipodean friend at the side of the road with a mechanical problem, he stopped and put his front wheel in Porte’s bike.

Porte afterwards had four Sky team-mates to help him return, but lost around 47 seconds to rivals, including leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

>>> Five talking points from stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d’Italia

“He’s just another Aussie, mate,” Clarke told Cycling Weekly afterwards. “He punctured and obviously needed a hand. It was one of those split seconds where it could have cost him the Giro.”

“It’s a unique situation, it’s not like we have someone on GC,” Clarke added

“All of Aussies get along well, it’s not like I was colluding with a team we are trying to race against. I’m just trying to help out a friend. Right when he stopped, he had no one. I was right there and about to sit up and roll in.”

Porte pucturend his front wheel and when the TV images showed him, he had around four teammates helping to save his Giro d’Italia position.

After the time loss, he sits fourth behind Contador by 1-09.

Asked what he thought about critics raising questions about him helping a rival team, Clarke added, “I was just helping out a mate.”

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d’Italia

“It didn’t take away from [Clarke’s] teammates,” sports director, Dario Cioni said outside Sky’s bus in Forlì.

“We benefited, but sometimes you are also colleagues and there’s respect. It’s nice to see that. A lot of people think on the bike that people fight with each other…When you are going for results, maybe, but at times friendship is stronger than a team at times.

“It was a nice gesture. It probably helped him lose less time. Cycling is a big wheel, so there will be a day when Richie will help him back.”

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Simon Clarke helps Richie Porte after a flat tyre on stage ten of the 2015 Giro d’Italia

Porte mentioned Clarke, but did not explain directly what happened. Reporters were unaware of what happened at the time.

“45 seconds… We’ve been fighting for one or two seconds, then you have a little bit of bad luck,” Porte told reporters after warming down.

“You have a long way to go. It was nice to see my team stop and help me, and Simon Clarke and Michael Matthews, good mates helping me as well. It’s not over. Taking the positives out of it; the legs felt great, [and I] live to fight another day.”

In three days, Porte might be able to gain that time loss back in the long 59.2km time trial from Treviso, before the Giro goes to the high Alpine passes the following week.

 

  • Man in motion

    In that hypothetical scenario it could be argued that the spectator would hand the wheel to whoever needed it, irrespectively of the team, acting as a “neutral aid”. I think the same cannot be said for Clarke. Would he have given the wheel to Aru or Contador if they were the ones who had sufferred the flat tyre? The spectator is heping ANY rider through a patch of bad luck. Clarke is helping ANY rider as long as he likes vegemite sandwiches and Castlemain XXXX as much as he does.

  • Paul

    At the end of the day, as hard as it is to accept them, rules are rules. Both riders should have known this well, just like golfers know not to hit another’s ball. There’s still plenty of racing left before the winner emerges.

  • Steve T

    What would the scenario have been, if one of the spectators in the background had handed over a wheel a’la in the northern classics etc. Would any penalties have been applied then?

  • That’s just sad….

  • Gary H

    It’s really not a dumb rule. These are supposed to be teams, not countries, racing against each other. Part of winning a GC is preparing within the team for events just like this.

  • blemcooper

    Not quite. The rules specify penalties for “each rider concerned”, not just the helper or the helped.

  • Ryan Christian

    “assistance too”, not “assistance from” the wording of the rule implies it is Clarke who should be penalised and not Porte. Absolute BS either way!!

  • blemcooper

    Where does sportive spirit fit if a non-GC team rider sees a GC contender with a flat, but then does NOT stop and give up a wheel, because they’re not friends or compatriots? i.e. does sportive spirit apply only to your friends or countrymen?

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    Well, Muse-ette was right – they just docked Porte two minutes – Poor Clarke must be hating himself for this. Dumb rules, but another Orica guy also tried to help tow Porte back up. Sad day for me and a lot of other fans/riders.

  • blemcooper

    People did say stuff about Paulo Tiralongo (though an Italian, not a Spaniard) and Contador seemingly helping each other while on different teams (Astana and Saxo, respectively), as payback/friendship/loyalty from gifted stage wins and pacing up climbs while on competing teams, past help while teammates.

    But gifting stages and riding in front are not quite so unambiguous as photos of cross-team wheel changing among riders as far as UCI racing regulations go.

  • Muse-ette

    As said below, not so dumb in possible other scenarios.

  • Astuo Mauo

    Muy bien SIMON!!! eres todo un caballero, un gesto muy honorable!!!!

  • Erik Van Bommel

    This used to happen quite a bit before radios….
    I wonder what would be said if a non-gc team Spaniard helped out Contador?
    Where were team-sky in all of this? A bit worrying, for a flat stage

  • Texas Roadhouse

    Class

  • Thiago Corrêa

    hope that sportive spirit and good sense talks louder than burocracy.

  • Hugh Strickland

    If Muse-ette is right, its just another dumb rule the UCI has that ruins cycling’s image.

  • Muse-ette

    Surely that breaches the UCI rule prohibiting “Non-regulation assistance to a rider of another team”. Both riders could lose 2′ and be fined CHF200 for a first offence.