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The men's under 23 podium (l-r): Eric Sheppard (2nd,VIC), Rohan Dennis (1st,SA) and Calvin Watson (3rd,VIC)
Australian neo-pro handed impressive race program
Twenty-year old neo-pro Calvin Watson will make his Trek Factory Racing debut at the Santos Tour Down Under next month.
The Australian signed for the WorldTour team after a successful season in 2013 that included the overall win in the Herald Sun Tour.
“At the start of this year I had a nice victory at the Herald Sun Tour and that sparked a bit of interest and got my name out there. Then I went onto ride the Tour Down Under and I raced quite aggressive. That caught the eye and with the help of my manager, and after a few talks with Luca Guercilena, we came to an agreement.”
RadioShack’s team boss, Guercilena, was aware of Watson due to the Australian having tested at the Mapei training centre in Italy and Watson is looking forward to locking horns in the WorldTour.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to it,” he told Cyclingnews.
“With being in the Australian programme all the home riders look up to going to GreenEdge but there’s so many talents coming out of Australia they weren’t ready to sign me this year and that’s totally fair enough. I was more than happy to come to a team like Trek. It’s an international team but it’s still a bit outside of your comfort zone. It was nice to have a change as such. If you get the sniff of a pro contract you can’t say no to that.”
The Tour Down Under will be his first race but Watson has been given a race programme that any neo-pro would be proud of.
“I’m starting at the Tour Down Under, that’s public already, but after that I’ll come back to Europe. Nearly all my races will be WorldTour, which is cool. I know it will be a big step but Luca, Baffi and the trainers will ease me into it and have put together a programme for me.
“I’ll do some one day races in France and then one of the big objectives will be Romandie, California and the Dauphine. They’re big races but I’m excited about the challenges that lie ahead.”
In his debut season the emphasis won’t be on which WorldTour races Watson can rack up, though. Instead the former Jayco AIS rider will be expected to focus on learning his trade and helping the team.
“At the same time I’m not getting ahead of myself. I’ll be there to learn, develop and work for the leaders. If any opportunities do arise I’ll try and take them. This team has so many champions and I’ll try and flourish.
“The team that’s going to the Tour Down Under is quite ambitious I think. We have guys suited to all the terrain. I’m going to be there to support whoever the leader is and at this stage it looks like Fränk Schleck Schleck will be in good condition. We have to see how the race pans out.”