• A new year, a new start with Aqua Blue Sport for Calvin Watson. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Calvin Watson is determined to turnaround a “challenging” stint in the Continental ranks with new Irish project Aqua Blue Sport this year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
11 Jan 2017 - 9:41 AM  UPDATED 11 Jan 2017 - 10:39 AM

Watson is one of two Australians, including Leigh Howard, that has signed with the second-tier team, which businessman Rick Delaney has underwritten.

The 24-year-old opened his 2017 campaign at the Australian national road championships on Sunday, in which he placed 29th, resolute on making an impression with the team he sought a position at largely off his own back.

“I get along really well with Rick, the owner of the team. He saw that I had a challenging 2016 and he still believed that I had a lot of potential and a lot to offer to his team,” Watson said. “Once we sat down and spoke about what this project was then I was 100 per cent on going there. It was the easiest contract I’ve ever had to sign.

“They’ve offered me quite a great opportunity,” he added. “For the Aussie summer of cycling, I’m the leader, so that’s really nice for my confidence and my morale to come home and try and perform in front of a home crowd.”

Watson has had a mixed run with teams in his short career to date, which if nothing else shows a resilience and dedication to the sport. He got a shock briefly racing with an Italian amateur team as an under-23 before returning to the AIS set-up, which helped him turn pro with Trek on a two-year deal in 2013.

Watson stopped short of calling his single season stint with Continental outfit An Post-Chain Reaction last year a demotion but admitted it was a “challenging” transition.

“It was hard to get my head around going from a WorldTour team back to a Continental set-up,” he said. “It was hard for the morale, for my confidence and there were fewer opportunities for racing. I mean, it was a learning experience. The one word I describe it as was challenging, just for many reasons.”

The 2013 Herald Sun Tour champion is yet to fully map out a European race program, which will partly hinge on what race invites his squad can score. Watson is at least tentatively designing where he may be able to make a mark with the team he has instilled faith in.

“The first interactions with the team were sensational, everyone gelled and bonded super well in such a short period of time. I think this is going to be something special and I’m really stoked to be a part of it from the get-go,” he said.

“I think we’re going to win some races, which is quite impressive for a new team.

“I’m a team player, so I love to help teammates. If we can win as a team then that’s success.”

Watson to lead Aqua Blue at 2017 JHST
Ireland’s first professional continental cycling team, Aqua Blue, will make its debut in the pro cycling peloton in Australia next year and will line up in the 1-5 February Jayco Herald Sun Tour.