Hilton Clarke, overall winner this year of USA Crits SpeedWeek, has signed with UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis for the remainder of 2010. Clarke, who was released by the Bahati Foundation team last week, will officially join his new team June 10th and will add needed firepower to the UHC sprint train.
UnitedHealthcare would not confirm the signing. UCI prevent teams or riders from discussing mid-season transfers before June 10.
Clarke will add stick to the UHC sprint train that has struggled at times this year to find the top step of the podium. The team broke through at SpeedWeek after a disappointing spring, with four wins split between Jake
Keough and Karl Menzies.
“I’m pretty excited about their program,” said Clarke. “Really I’ve been feeling like I’ve been riding in their team already, with the way I’ve been playing off their leadout.”
Clarke played that leadout to a T to win races this year like the Redlands Classic stage 2 criterium.
Clarke compared his new situation at UHC to his time at Toyota-United, where he rode alongside Ivan Dominguez and Henk Vogels. “I’m experienced enough now to know that when you get in those situations, you start working together and you find scenarios that give riders opportunities to race,” said Clarke. “If someone else gets blocked, you’ve got a guy that can still clean up.”
At UHC, Clarke will join former teammates that include Chris Baldwin and his younger brother Jonathan. The Aussie will join them, however, under the banner of one of his oldest rivals. “I must admit, it’s been so many years that I’ve raced against Healthnet, that it’s sort of like, am I crossing to the good side or am I crossing to the bad side?”
Clarke began shopping for a new team last week when Bahati management offered a release to all of their riders amidst a major reorganization. “At the time, it felt like a move that was the right choice to make.”
Clarke will make his first start with UnitedHealthcare June 12th at the Clarendon Cup and is scheduled to join the team a week later at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.