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Cycling star says wheel swap was a one-off

  • Cycling star says wheel swap was a one-off

Simon Clarke will always be proud of his controversial wheel swap with fellow Australian cycling star Richie Porte, saying it was a spontaneous act of sportsmanship.

But Clarke adds he will not do it again, because he does not go out of his way to break the rules.

Race judges at the May Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) attracted widespread criticism when they penalised Clarke and Porte two minutes apiece.

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Porte was in overall contention when he punctured inside the last five kilometres of stage 10.

Seeing his friend's plight, Clarke stopped and generously gave Porte his own wheel.

But under the strict reading of cycling's rules, they were guilty of collusion - Clarke was riding for Orica-GreenEDGE and Porte was Team Sky's leader in the Giro.

The judges were panned for their verdict as roundly as Clarke was praised for his act.

"People say 'what do you think about the penalty?'," Clarke told AAP.

"Everyone has to be responsible for their actions and I'm proud of what I did, whether I was (penalised) or not.

"I wouldn't do it again, because ... to go and do it again, once you've been penalised, is saying you don't give a stuff about the rules.

"I do care about the rules."

Clarke is back in Australia for the off-season and was guest of honour at Wednesday's Maillot Jaune Club lunch in Melbourne.

The incident with Porte struck a chord far beyond the sport, with Clarke saying plenty of people outside cycling in Australia had asked him about it.

"It was just a completely spontaneous thing," Clarke said.

"I never thought it would have blown up as much as it did.

"But it's great, the reception it's had back here."

Clarke added he knew about the rule that riders from rival teams were not allowed to work with each other.

While emphasising his respect for cycling officials, Clarke said he was surprised he and Porte were punished.

"There are so many rules in cycling that are overlooked - so many little rules that the (race) jury let slip," he said.

"I really thought after ... even if they considered that breaking the rules, surely I didn't give him any advantage?

"In the end, they decided what they did."

Clarke is also relieved that, in the end, the penalty did not mean much.

Within days of the incident, Porte had dropped out of overall contention and eventually pulled out of the Giro because of injury.

"It's good we (he and Porte) can laugh about it now," he said.

"I'm just happy that the two minutes we got docked was not the difference between him winning and losing.

"It would have been devastating if that had happened.

"Although I was really sad he ended up pulling out and going home, I was actually relieved because it meant it wasn't my fault he lost."

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