Georgia Williams snuck up on the cycling elite in 2018, sealing a full-time contract with World Tour team Mitchelton Scott, claiming a Commonwealth Games silver medal and the national championship double.  And the 25-year-old has confirmed today she will return to Napier to defend her Vantage Elite National Championship honours in the time trial and road race on 4-6 January.

 

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This time Williams is aware that her surreptitious cycling days are over.

 

“I know it will be much tougher defending my titles in Napier this time around. I will have a big target on my back, but that is another goal to overcome,” Williams said.

 

Williams has enjoyed the experience of wearing the New Zealand champion’s jersey in all of the major women’s cycling contests around the globe.

 

“It was really cool and there was so much more recognition in the peloton. It is a different jersey than the team and I was constantly asked what country I came from. And the riders loved the jersey design too and I think it earned me more respect from other teams.

 

“It definitely gave more publicity for me and for our country. It was mentioned more on the live coverage. It was a nice feeling and one I would like to have again for myself, for Cycling New Zealand and for the country as a very proud Kiwi.”

 

Williams followed her double win at Napier with an excellent fifth on general classification in the Herald Sun Tour in Australia, followed by her second placing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and a superb fourth placing in the World Tour race at Emakumeen Euskal Bira in Spain. However her year hit a road block in June with a seemingly innocuous training fall, which ended with a triple break of her hip and sacrum. The two month layoff hit her hard.

 

“It was the first big injury challenge of my career and I struggled mentally dealing with it. And it really wrecked my season because while I got back for the world championships I was not in race-ready shape.”

 

However her Mitchelton Scott team have big plans for the Kiwi, with Williams designated to lead the team for January’s opening World Tour event at Tour Down Under in South Australia. While some illness has affected her return to the bike, she is now working hard in the challenging weather conditions in Auckland to be in shape for Australia and by default for the national championships.

 

“I would love to be on the podium for my team at the Tour Down Under. It is a big start to the year for me.”

 

The young kiwi has also been included on the initial list to ride in her second Grand Tour at the Giro Rosa, the women’s equal of the Giro d’Italia. As part of the preparations, Williams will venture to a stint of altitude training in Andorra in June, and if that experience proves beneficial, it is something she would like to repeat in the build-up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Before all that though Williams will have the none-too-small target of depending her national championship titles in Napier next month.

 

Photo: Robert Jones

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