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“With 15k to go there was just me and Will Clarke left and we spoke to each other that we would just go full gas and see where it took us. In the end I gave what I had, and he took off.” 

Photo: Trek Factory Racing






22.01.2015 @ 14:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek's Calvin Watson joined the key breakaway in a pivotal stage at the Santos Tour Down Under.


The 143.2-kilometer stage three presented the first dent to the overall classification with a tough 1.6-kilometer climb to the finish.  The nasty ascent consumed every team’s pre-race meeting with its average 9% gradient and pitches to 20%, and at race end it lived up to its hype.


The excruciating slope, a suffer-fest for the riders, but exhilarating excitement for spectators, saw Rohan Dennis steal the thrilling win with a late attack, while his BMC teammate Cadel Evans sprinted to second place, three seconds later. 


Behind the front leaders, the peloton had shattered. Trek Factory Racing’s first rider across the line was Laurent Didier in 32nd place (+42”) followed eight seconds later by mountain biker extraordinaire Dan McConnell in 38th. 


It was not the result the team was hoping for, but what’s becoming evident is that the southern hemisphere riders have an edge over the winterized riders from the north hemisphere, and Trek Factory Racing’s young on-form Aussie is testament to that.


Calvin Watson continued right where he left off yesterday with another aggressive, strong show: He jumped into the day’s early breakaway with three others non-GC threats, and they built a lead that hovered at three minutes for most of the day.


“Kim [Andersen] said to look for the breakaway today and it went relatively early and I jumped in there,” said Watson.


"From then it was just a matter of riding a smart race and playing with the bunch as much as we could."


As the feared climb neared, the peloton’s pace amplified and the gap ebbed quickly to the escapees in the final 25 kilometers. One by one the break crumbled, until Watson, too, threw in the towel with 10 kilometers remaining and left Will Clarke (Drapac) to fight a fruitless battle alone.


“With 15k to go there was just me and Will Clarke left and we spoke to each other that we would just go full gas and see where it took us,” explained Watson. “In the end I gave what I had, and he took off.” 


"With 10k to go the bunch was coming down our throats, I was cramping, and it was all over."


Going into today’s pivotal stage Trek Factory Racing’s game plan was simple: try for the breakaway and if that fails place the team’s strongest legs in the best position possible for the final decisive uphill.  The team was exceptional in getting Dan McConnell and Laurent Didier to the final climb, but the steep grade coupled with a lack of early-season form offset the solid teamwork.


“Dan was in good position for the climb, but he could not go with the top guys,” explained director Kim Andersen.


"That’s quite normal because he doesn’t race road, it’s another level here, and he loses too much energy in the race fighting for places. And, he’s not in top form."


He added: “We thought this morning that maybe it could be a day that a breakaway could have a chance if it had the right composition. But when the breakaway went there were two guys at one minute, so we knew already they didn’t have a chance. But Calvin was there, he was feeling good, so I told him to try and save as much as you can, then in the end you go full gas.


"Today was a good try, and I am happy to see that."



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