Aqua Blue Sport to make Herald Sun Tour debut led by former winner Calvin Watson

Irish Pro-Continental team confirm second Australian race to start 2017 season

2013 Herald Sun Tour champion Calvin Watson will headline the Aqua Blue Sport team at the 2017 edition of Australia's oldest stage race in February. The 23-year-old, who spent two seasons in the WorldTour with Trek, is aiming high for the race and wants to start his Aqua Blue Sports career in the best way possible.

"I've been working really hard. I want to come to Australia and get the ball rolling well, not just for the morale. I'm not just coming to Australia to ride around, I'm coming to perform and chase results and get the season off to a great start," said Watson who will race the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race with Aqua Blue Sports on January 29 before the 2.1 stage race gets underway February 1.

"I haven't been there for a few years now and I believe the race has changed quite a bit since I won it as well. From looking at the profile it's going to be a bloody hard race but an exciting one I think. It's quite amazing to see how far the race has come and I think you've got to take your hat off to John Trevorrow - he's obviously worked super hard to get the race to where he believes it belongs."

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Australian Leigh Howard has also been selected for the race and is one rider in particular that Watson is looking forward to racing alongside at the Herald Sun Tour.

"It's really cool to have Leigh on the team. For me to have another Australian there is always very nice. I know Leigh pretty well, raced against him a lot and for a team like Aqua Blue to have Leigh on-board is fantastic. He's a quality bike rider and we all hope to see him at his best in Australia and we can make a bang and kick-start the year," Watson added.

The seven-man Aqua Blue Sport team for the Herald Sun Tour is the same squad which will race the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The two races will be the team's first with team owner Rick Delaney looking forward to seeing his riders in action.

"We are getting very excited about the start of the season and competing in Australia. Seeing the navy and gold jersey on our riders in competition is something of a dream come true for me but also the beginning of the journey for Aqua Blue Sport," said Delaney.

Aqua Blue Sport for the 2017 Herald Sun Tour: Leigh Howard (Aus), Calvin Watson (Aus), Aaron Gate (NZl), Peter Koning (Ned), Michel Kreder (Ned), Larry Warbasse (USA) and Conor Dunne (Irl).

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