It’s never been easy for Kiwi riders to bounce between home and the road during a pro racing season. Now, with the New Zealand national government’s strict quarantine protocol, making the decision to go home is even harder for riders from the land of the long white cloud.
Fortunately for newly-crowned double national champion Georgia Williams, a desire to see her friends and family after a year abroad outweighed the hassle of going home.
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“It was a very last-minute decision to even come back to New Zealand as it is much harder in COVID-19 times,” Williams said. “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.”
Williams’ double victories in the road race and time trial this year are actually a second double for the 27-year old; in 2018, she also scored a silver fern jersey in both events. This is Williams’ third national time trial title.
However, Williams said that her 2021 double victory is particularly poignant, notably because of the challenges to her career since 2018. Williams suffered from Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport syndrome (RED-S), a condition characterized by low energy availability, amenorrhoea/oligomenorrhoea, and decreased bone mineral density. She said that her form has suffered since her last national title wins.
“I ruined my body a bit by accidentally under fuelling for years and years,” Williams said. “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. To win the New Zealand time trial and road race championships is even more special this time around.”
Williams, who has been with Team BikeExchange since 2017 (then Orica-Scott) credits team nutritionist Sam Impey with her return to wellness.
After securing the national titles in Cambridge last weekend, Williams immediately turned around to pack for the long journey to Europe. If COVID-19 conditions allow, her season will begin in less than a month at Strade Bianche on March 6th followed by Trofeo Alfredo Binda and then an altitude training block before the Ardennes Classics.
Williams said that the national titles provided a big boost of morale after a season of limited racing in 2020 due to the pandemic. Furthermore, wearing the silver fern on her team jersey will also serve as a helpful reminder of the place she calls home.
“You definitely get noticed more being a national champion which can be nice,” Williams said. “I’m very proud to wear it and represent my country and it also helps me to not be mistaken for an Australian rider when I am in Europe, which often happens due to being on an Australian team.”