Something I have in common with Calvin Watson

Kate Smart Columnist

By Kate Smart, Kate Smart is a Roar Expert

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    Now that I have had a moment to reflect on this year’s Herald Sun Tour, I’ve realised that Calvin Watson and I have something in common.

    Sadly, Scottish DJ Calvin Harris doesn’t have hugs – or anything else for us!

    Neither of us are acceptable in the ‘80s – as neither of us were born during that great decade. Now while I’m not about to admit my age, I will confess to being somewhere between Stuart O’Grady and Simon Gerrans, which has, in turn, got me thinking about this year’s tour.

    There are many elements that went toward making this race a fantastic spectacle. Moving the race to January is a great idea, even if it sadly has lost its official world tour status.

    The move to a New Year start and piggy-backing on the Bay Crits has opened the race to a whole new audience.

    It’s allowed spectators who normally wouldn’t see live cycling the chance to stand on the side of the road and watch the spectacle of a fast-moving peloton rolling past.

    Perhaps a down side has been the incredible heat that the riders had to endure and that may have kept some away, but on the whole this change in schedule has been a success.

    But I hear you asking yourself, “how does this relate to my original discussion of age?” As always, I’m getting there, even if it is slowly.

    What seems to have surprised many pundits is the way the young guns of Australian cycling not only took the race up to the more senior and experienced professionals competing for the national team, but how they literally made the race their own.

    To be honest, I’m not sure how surprising this is if you take the viewpoint that the real value and indeed role of the likes of O’Grady and Co. in this year’s race wasn’t to show the young ones how it’s done, but to act as ‘mentors’ to our cycling future.

    Now, at this point, please don’t be screaming at your computer and wording a carefully crafted reply suggesting that I am accusing our senior riders of not taking the race seriously. I am not at all suggesting this.

    My point is this, that a field of mainly under 23 riders had four days of tutelage from some Australia and New Zealand greats. The experience of riding next to the likes of O’Grady, Gerrans, Henderson and Dean for four days is the kind of learning experience that cannot be purchased, or replicated in any institute of sport.

    What was so fantastic about this year’s race was seeing some of our (and New Zealand’s) great champions giving back to the sport. This is something we talk of so much in this country but how often do we really see it?

    I can only imagine what an experience these young riders have had over the last four days. Meeting your idol is one thing, but having the chance to learn from them, even if they did not intentionally set out to act as mentors, cannot be underestimated.

    Watson’s win is also a lesson in the power of actions speaking louder than words. Watson is not the only promising young athlete to not be picked for an Australian team or given an institute scholarship.

    I may be mistaken in this and I know you will correct me, but didn’t Simon Gerrans and Rachel Neylan get over looked for AIS scholarships?

    Please let me know if I’ve got my wires crossed, but my point is that while these scholarships and team selections are important to young athletes, nothing is more important than the runs you put on the board.

    Watson has let his legs do the talking and any disappointment at not being on the Australian team is hopefully squashed by yesterday’s victory.

    The future of cycling is looking very rosy indeed. Many of the key players, old and young, in this year’s race were born either side of the ‘80s and while this may make some of us feel old, it only serves to remind us of the strength of cycling in our neck of the woods.

    Now, what is it that I have in common with Calvin Watson?

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • Roar Guru

      January 8th 2013 @ 9:10am
      Bones506 said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Watson will be right in the mix on saturday’s U23 National Road Race.

      We are blessed with a wealth of young talent and are very fortunate that we have a lot of current and ex pro’s willing to race in the HST to help mentor and develop the next generation of young riders.

    • Columnist

      January 9th 2013 @ 4:04pm
      Lee Rodgers said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

      Interesting article Kate, thanks for that! The number of good young Aussies coming through now is hugely impressive, especially at a time when in some of the Old Countries the sport’s taken such a knock. The only other place I can think that even compares to the vibrant scene you have right now is Britain, but even there they can’t compare with the sheer number of good young guys and girls you have coming up.

      Will we have the first Aussie Tour de France winner in the next 5 years? Possi… oh, wait.

      Seriously though, looks like a very rosy future (and present!) for the sport in Australia. And keep the articles coming please!

    • Columnist

      January 9th 2013 @ 9:02pm
      Kate Smart said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the comments guys. It is such an exciting time to be watching cycling and it’s also great to see how much the sport’s profile has lifted in the last few years. Perhaps Lee, cycling is becoming the new ‘ashes’ between Aus and Britain???

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