Justin Williams won the Belize national road race Sunday, just one day after changing his national affiliation with the UCI.
The Belizian-American Williams had previously not qualified to race for his father’s country on a national level, and only officially became eligible to compete in the Belize nationals 48 hours before the race.
“It’s incredible to be able bring my parents’ homeland to a big stage. Winning the Belizean national road race is near and dear to my heart. Cycling is massive in Belize and I hope to give them something to be proud of,” Williams said.
“The goal is the same, continue to develop American bike racing, continue to add culture, give opportunities, and have fun. This is just the beginning.”
The Cycling Federation of Belize confirmed Friday that Williams had successfully changed his national affiliation with the UCI and USA Cycling, opening the door for the L39ion of Los Angeles founder to start in the pack of around 50 Belize riders Sunday.
Williams, 32, had gone into the event hot off of racing at Tulsa Tough, where he took victory on the opening day before placing fourth on day two. Williams carried his momentum from Tulsa to Belize, where he beat Oscar Quiros in a two-up sprint.
“I haven’t wanted to win a race that bad in a long time, I didn’t think I had it, and then it kind of slowed down a little bit,” Williams said.
“My legs came back and I thought as long as I could make it to the sprint, I can usually do something. Oscar [Quiros] and I were both in the same position, we were both hurting. It was a slow man’s sprint and I was able to get it done but it was everything I had. I’m going to need days [to recover]. It was rough.”