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Stephen Williams
SEG’s Stevie Williams Gets PEZ’d

December 19, 2017
by Edmond Hood

Rider Interview: Steve Cummings, Adam Blythe and Dan McLay all by-passed the British Cycling path to fame and pro contracts. The next to follow in their footsteps is young Welshman, Stevie Williams, who is getting on quite well, thank you, with the SEG team in 2017 and is looking for more success next season.

It may seem as if the only way to ‘make it’ on the continent if you’re a British rider is via one of the British Cycling ‘plans/programmes/academy’ but there’s still the ‘old fashioned way;’ approach teams on the continent, seek a ride and take it from there.

Welshman Stevie Williams has taken that very route, riding for highly rated Dutch team, SEG Racing Academy in 2017. Williams rode an excellent programme with SEG; taking in the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux, Le Tour de Bretagne, the Ronde de l’Isard, Flèche Ardennaise, U23 Giro d’Italia, Giro valle d’Aosta, Czech Cycling Tour and Ronde van Midden Nederland. All tough, strength and character building races but at the same time, not ‘killing’ races for a young rider. And along the way he picked up some very promising results.

If you’re a PEZ regular then you’ll have read our recent interview with his team mate Fabio Jakobsen who for 2018 has graduated from SEG to Quick-Step – Stevie is hoping to tread a similar path.

PEZ: Basics first please, Stevie – age, where from and how did you start out on the bike?
Stevie Williams:
I’m 21 years-old, from Wales. I began cycling after I had a road bike for Christmas. I didn't take it seriously until I became a junior in 2013. Ever since then I've enjoyed racing my bike and I've progressed to where I am now, with SEG.

PEZ: How did you get the SEG ride?
I got the ride with SEG late in the season of 2016, after flying to The Netherlands to take numerous tests and to meet the team I received a phone call from Bart van Haaren (SEG Racing Academy’s Manager) which secured my place on the team, I was really happy with this.

PEZ: Tell us about SEG Racing Academy.
SEG Racing Academy have a great set up, from the riders to the staff, it's a great atmosphere on and off the bike, with a perfect race calendar it's a great place to be able to progress and develop as a young rider, with the help of all the coaches and staff.

PEZ: Did you ride much in service of young Mr. Jakobsen?

To be honest, my race program was almost complete opposite to Fabio's. I was doing the hillier stage races and Ardennes races whilst he was focusing on the flatter stage races and classics, we didn't spend too much time with each other at races, thinking back the only race was U23 Giro d’Italia. Nevertheless we had a great relationship on and off the bike, and I wish him the best with his move up to WorldTour next year.

PEZ: You were with JLT Condor last season - British team mentality/Dutch team mentality, how do they compare?
The change from JLT condor to SEG was always going to be strange, going from a British team with British riders and staff to an international team would have its difficulties for sure, travel, language, etc. But I dealt with it well, I settled in fairly quickly and it didn't take long for me to relax and be myself.

PEZ: The Ronde de l’Isard; two top six stage placings and just missed the top 10 on GC, a strong performance.
The Ronde I'sard was a great race, the first time in the high mountain for me, I looked forward to this race ever since I knew my race program in February. Coming away from France with a couple of 6th places and 11th on GC was great for my confidence.

PEZ: A long season right up to 15th place in the Famenne Ardenne Classic on October 11th.

My season started in March and ended in October, this was the longest season of races I've done, this is another good thing about SEG, it has a long season of great races; this was something I needed.
Coming off the back of Fammene classic with a good result was good for my morale going into the off-season.

PEZ: Second in the Flèche Ardennaise, a nice finish but any ‘what ifs’?
Second in Flèche Ardennaise . . . second place is always a tough pill to swallow. Of course when you come that close to winning, naturally as an athlete you question yourself and rethink things, and where you could have done things differently. But overall second place was another step forward for me, after missing Liège-Bastogne-Liège a few weeks before through illness, I was happy to do a result in the Ardennes.

PEZ: Which races suit you best?
At this moment in my career, my favourite parcours are in the Ardennes, short sharp climbs around five minutes in length, when a small group goes to the finish I like to have confidence in my sprint, over the next few years I’m hoping to develop myself into a GC rider and work on my skills on the longer higher mountains.

PEZ: Do you have a coach ?

I’ve worked with Vasilis Anastopoulos for a year now, he is one of the coaches at SEG; I have a good relationship with him. We understand each other and there is never a hesitation to give him a phone call if I have a problem or if something isn't going well, I feel this is important to have with a coach. We have a good relationship and he has my best interest at heart to progress in cycling.

PEZ: Tell us about your winter preparation.

This winter is similar to last year, get a good base going into Christmas and slowly progress into the racing season with specific efforts to get myself finely tuned for my goals.

PEZ: What’s 2018 about for you?
My goal for 2018 is to win bike races. Race consistently well, become all round a better rider, and look to follow through well with my targets and goals. Also to help my team mates whenever they need me.

Intervista che mi è piaciuta molto, fa capire bene come lo sviluppo di ogni corridore abbia ritmi differenti.

Williams nella passata stagione si è piazzato bene svariate volte, nel 2018, all'ultimo anno tra gli U23, potrebbe essere protagonista in molte corse importanti.
Nuova intervista al vincitore dell'Isard e favorito del Giro U23:

PEZ Talk: SEG Racing’s Stephen Williams!
June 4, 2018
by Edmond Hood
Rider Interview: The SEG Racing Academy boys have been busy racking up the wins and Ed Hood has followed on from his recent interview with Cees Bol with a catch up with Stephen Williams. The young Welshman has added to the SEG success with his recent exploits in the Ronde de l'Isard. Take it away, Ed.

Last year we spoke to SEG Racing Academy’s young Welshman Stephen Williams about his successful season, including a strong ride in the top line u23 stage race the Ronde de L’Isard. However, this season his ride in that event was beyond ‘strong’ – taking two stages and the overall win. Best ‘have another word’ we thought to ourselves. . .

PEZ: Congratulations on a terrific performance, Stevie - you rode very well in L'Izard last year - was it always a big goal for 2018 - did you do specific preparation?
Stephen Williams: Thank you, definitely, after doing a promising ride there in 2017, I was always looking forward to coming back and improving on last year’s result. To take away two stage wins, GC and KoM from the race are great for my confidence going into the next races.

PEZ: The first stage and your first win - tell us about that.

Ever since seeing the parcours for stage one, it was always a target for me to try and take out the stage, the final was a short climb of around three kilometres with some steep parts, that kind of finish is perfect for me. After being constantly looked after throughout the stage by my teammates, I decided to attack right at the bottom of the climb and go long, bridging to my teammate Daan Hoole, who was in the break, he was able to give me his last turn before going on to take a solo win.
I was so happy with the win.

PEZ: Then a win in the maillot jaune, that must have been special?
Honestly, it was probably the best day I’ve had on a bike, after having good legs the day before, I knew that I’d be up for the stage again. A big break got away at the start of the day, a little too big to be honest but we had my teammate Ide Schelling present in it. Fortunately, there was a lot of teams who wanted to ride for the stage so we got help bringing the group back, my teammates did a great job of controlling everything and we caught them on the footsteps of Goulier Neige. It was then a whittling down process, with my teammate Jan Maas setting a nice tempo for the first half of the climb. I then just waited to see how it played out; with one kilometer to go I followed wheels and went over the top with 500m to go and managed to take a solo win in the yellow jersey. To take this win on the top of an iconic climb in that jersey was something I only dreamed of.

PEZ: Tell us about your defence on the last two stages - and those punctures!

It was a really hard race and my teammates were unreal in the four stages, I couldn’t have done it without them. It was unbelievable as we didn’t had any punctures the whole race, but than bad luck strikes on a decisive moment in the race! They protected me all the time and put me in position before every climb. I was really well looked after, and even when I had both flat tires there was someone next to me to give me his wheel. To be honest, I felt like my race was over when I punctured with 15 km to go, but I had no other choice than to take risks in the descent and push the pedals as hard as I could, luckily it worked.

PEZ: You started the season well, just off the podium in the Ronde van Zuid-Holland.
Yes, I came in fourth but I was very happy to see that two of my teammates went one-two. Those races are not the ones that best suit my riding style but if I want to fight for GC in stage races I have to learn how to survive in flat, windy and wet Dutch races.

PEZ: And top 10 in Liege-Bastogne-Liege; is that one for the future?
This was a big goal of mine, after deciding to miss the Commonwealth Games in Australia, I wanted to do a good result in Liege, a big break got away in the first hour, 14 guys I think, my group caught 11 at the top of Saint Nicolas, but 3 guys had already gone clear. So it was a case of riding fourth. To come away with a top 10 wasn’t my plan, but I had good legs which gave me good feelings going into Bretagne and Isard.

PEZ: Tell us about your winter preparation.
At the beginning of the season I stayed for one month and a half in Greece, including two training camps with the team. That allowed me to focus on nothing but my bike and the weather conditions and the roads were ideal. Being able to solely focus on cycling at that period of the year really helped me to build a solid base for the season.

PEZ: How is the language coming along?
Dutch is a difficult language, but I am trying to get better at it. However, we are an international team so communicate with each other in English all the time.

PEZ: SEG have had a great start to the season; that success must be good for your motivation?
Yes, it’s very motivating to see the team doing so well, with the results coming in every other day it makes you step up, but it shows that the training camps and all the work we did early in the year paying off.

PEZ: Cees Bol is going very well and your ex-teammate Fabio Jakobsen hasn't taken long to settle into World Tour life, that must encourage you too?
Yes it is, both of these guys are doing really well, Fabio winning multiple races in his neo-pro year is great to see, I’ve spent a lot of time with Cees this year, it’s great to see him doing so well, after the bad luck he suffered in 2017.

PEZ: What's next on the agenda?

In the next few days I will be leaving to go to Greece for a training camp before the Giro u23. After that, I will race the Nationals Championships in the UK at the end of June and afterward, I’ll have a little break and plan my second part of the season.

PEZ: Have GB been in touch about selections?
No, I don’t know anything about it yet, but the season is still young. Right now I am focusing on enjoying what is coming and training hard for the u23 Giro. If that goes well everything else will come along the way, I love racing with Great Britain, so hopefully, some opportunities will come if things are going well.

PEZ: Zoncolan - did you watch on TV and do you fancy trying your hand there, one day?

Unfortunately I couldn’t watch it live because we were racing as well in l’Isard, but of course it is an iconic climb and I believe that all riders dream about winning up there.

# With thanks to Stevie and SEG Racing Academy Communications Executive David Soteras. #


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