In more than a century since six-day bicycle racing was introduced to Australia on Melbourne’s Exhibition circuit in 1881, Australia has produced some masters. Danny Clark ranks with the greatest of them, winning 74 six-day races (out of 235 races -the second highest total in the history of the sport) and four world titles during his career.
Clark was just 17 when he won silver in the 4000m individual pursuit at the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. Two years later he won silver in the 1000m time trial at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Despite fracturing a finger in training, he was beaten by just 0.43 seconds in the final by the Danish world champion Neils Fredborg.
Between 1968 and 1973, Clarke won 13 individual national track championships (he was the Australian champion 32 times during his career). In 1973 he won all four individual titles he contested: the 1000m time trial, the 1000m sprint, the 16km and the 4000m pursuit. This had never been achieved before.
Later in 1973, Clark turned professional, and distinguished himself on the European and Australian circuit. Regarded as one of the world’s finest six-day riders, he won four world professional championships; the Kieren Sprint in 1980 and 1981, and in motor-paced events in 1988, and 1991 at the age of 39 years and 21 days, the oldest cycling world champion in the history of the sport. He also won five silver (two Kieren, two motor paced, one point-score) and two bronze medals (motor paced and point-score).
Competing in Europe in 1987, he won a record nine of the 11 major six-day races in which he competed. He demonstrated his tremendous all-round ability that same year, winning the International Omnium Classic, a major European event, and became the first rider ever to win all four sections of the event: individual pursuit, flying kilometer, elimination, and point-score races. In 1988 he added two more European titles to his collection and became the only rider to win five consecutive six-day track events. The partnership of Tony Doyle (UK) and Clarke recorded 19 wins, the most ever recorded for a partnership in the history of the sport, before they were barred from competing together.
In 1999 and 2001 Clarke was voted Cyclist Master of the Year and won 25 road titles in the 2001 season. In 2003, Clarke was twice World Masters Road Champion (with Uci and Udace licenses). He also won the World Cup Masters and was the Italian Masters Grand-Fondo champion (a points system over the season of races). Clarke won a total of 21 Grand-Fondo road races in Italy that year. The following season, Clarke was again the World Masters Road Champion, World Cup Masters Champion, winner of 25 Grand Fondo road races, and winner of the Masters Grand Fondo.
In mid 2004, Clarke was struck by a car while training in Queensland. Suffering a smashed wrist, Clarke has had training problems ever since. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1986 in recognition of his service to cycling.