Georgia Williams (Team BikeExchange) has returned to Europe with the jerseys of the New Zealand time trial and road champion packed in her luggage along with hopes that she is also carrying the form she had after delivering the double in 2018.
Williams secured the national elite titles last week after facing two disrupted seasons in a row with the COVID-19 pandemic postponements and cancellations of 2020 coming on top of a 2019 season where she was grappling with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S).
“To win the New Zealand time trial and road race championships is even more special this time around. I’ve had lots of ups and downs the past couple of years and haven’t been back at my 2018 form, so I’m hoping this is a sign that it’s going to be a good year,” said Williams.
“It was also a very last-minute decision to even come back to New Zealand as it is much harder in COVID-19 times. With the season finishing so late, I thought I might as well stay in Europe, so these wins are very special and also make the two weeks in hotel quarantine all worth it.”
In 2018, when Williams last delivered the double, top ten results regularly punctuated her season plus there were also a couple of near misses of the podium at Women’s WorldTour races and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. However, the regularity of those results at the top end of the field disappeared the next year as Williams grappled with RED-S syndrome.
“I ruined my body a bit by accidentally under fuelling for years and years. It all caught up with me in 2019 and I was constantly tired and not recovering. I was grateful to have a break from training and racing to get healthy again,” said Williams. “I worked closely with our team nutritionist Sam Impey and have been feeling so much better since I got my menstrual cycle back.”
The 27-year-old, who headed back to Europe on Monday, is now getting set to try and deliver another year where the silver fern on the jersey of the New Zealand champion can regularly be seen near the front of the field
“If all goes to plan, I will start my season at Strade Bianche on March 6th followed by Trofeo Alfredo Binda and then an altitude training block before the Ardennes Classics,” said Williams. “I’m looking forward to all of the races in 2021, none in particular. I didn’t get so many race days last year with the messy COVID season, so every race will be fun! I definitely want to make the most of them all.”
Williams will also be returning to a changed dynamic at Team BikeExchange in 2021 with the podium dominating team leader, Annemiek van Vleuten, having shifted to Movistar. Australian rider Amanda Spratt is a clear heir apparent, however the opportunities within the squad are expected to be spread more widely throughout the team this year.
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