Praise for young rider Stevie Williams as he battles with the worlds best in Taiwan.
Overnight the concluding stage of the Tour of Taiwan resulted in a major reshuffled the overall classification. The steep and twisting summit finish saw the yellow jersey change hands at the race battled skyward to Wutai Village.
There was praise and frustration for JLT Condor as their riders slipped out of the top ten after spending several days animating the race.
“On paper the results are not what we wanted. However Stevie Williams revealed himself to be a star of the future, at just 18 years-old and in his first trip to a race like this, he was attacking experienced, world-class riders.” explained Team Manager, John Herety.
“We gambled and went for the overall race win on stage five. Our aim was for Williams to be in the break of the day and attack on the 15 km ascent to the finish. Keep the pace high and reduce the pack. That’s what he did. It was unfortunate that he was marked by everyone. But on his own, he pushed the other teams all the way.”
How the stage unfolded
A breakaway formed with Stevie Williams featuring in the group, along with other race contenders from high profile teams including Australian’s Drapac and Avanti WheySports. The group built a seven minute advantage over course of the 160km stage. By the time the group had reached the lower slopes of the 15km climb their lead had been cut to just two minutes.
JLT Condor’s Stevie Williams went on the attack on the steep hairpins, his aim was to overhaul the one-minute deficit he had on the leader of the race, Ben O’Connor (Avanti WheySports). His attack on the lower part of the mountain was short lived as the Avanti Team chased the 18 year-old back. A flurry of attacks followed from seasoned riders including Tour of Spain, stage winner Francisco Mancebo and the pack looked to Williams to chase back the experienced climber. The Welsh rider brought the Spainiard under control before himself counter attacking but again his move was marked.
Williams tried two more big attacks on the mountain but the select group saw the danger and took it in turns to contain the youngster and finally allowing Francisco Mancebo free closely followed by Austrailian Robbie Hucker (Avanti Wheysports).
After Williams big efforts to distance the group he wasn’t able match the pace of Mancebo, instead continued to battle over the last 2km over the stone paved streets to the remote village.
Robbie Hucker and Mancebo rode clear taking 14 seconds over the remaining leaders. The gap was enough to lift the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Hucker’s team mate Ben O’Connor.
Williams and several of the the breakaway riders were caught by the chasing peloton and finished within the top 30 a few minutes adrift of the winner.
“It is frustrating that Stevie was marked out more than others, I think that at just 18-year-old to be in that select group to be marked like that shows he is a real threat and also a great talent.” reflected the team leader, Russ Downing.
“We’ve got several positives to take from the race. Conor spent several days attacking and moved into 4th overall, he has a talent for picking the right moves to be in, making sure we where there when it counted. Our other young rider Luke Mellor worked extremely hard to look after the guys, collecting countless bottles from the team car, especially in such hot and humid weather he had he work cut out.”
Recap: story of the race
Stage 1: 11 man break dominated the stage taking a maximum lead of 3 minutes 20 seconds over the pack. With all the teams represented the break would survive. JLT Condor’s Conor Dunne found his way into the group and took 7th on the stage putting him 58 seconds ahead of the bunch.
The month ahead
Today eight riders from JLT Condor are due to start the Istrian Spring Trophy (Croatia), a four stage race concluding on Sunday.
Riders will return from Croatia and Taiwan and be selected for the Tour de Normandie 21st-27th March.