Podium For Williams At Danilith Nokere Koerse

Lily Williams displayed her brilliant Classics form, sprinting to third at Danilith Nokere Koerse in Belgium.

The 29-year-old threw her bike over the line in a thrilling photo finish to make certain of the podium at the end of the 127km race from Deinze to Nokere.

Williams was the only rider who could cope with the acceleration of World Champion Lotte Kopecky and multi-winner Lorena Wiebes (both Team SD Worx – Protime), bridging to the race-winning move on an uphill stretch of cobbles.

“It feels so good to get that first podium!” said an enthusiastic Williams. “I feel like I’ve believed in myself for a long time, but you always have doubts. To move in the direction that I want to be in is extremely gratifying.”

Kopecky then unleashed an attack on the narrow cobble streets that carried her to victory. Behind, Williams rode a canny race, sitting in on a chase that had swelled to eight and saving herself for the uphill sprint on cobbles atop the Nokereberg.

Superstar sprinter Wiebes took second, with Williams going wheel-to-wheel with Drentse Acht van Westerveld winner Sofie van Rooijen (VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team), the Dutch rider on the bike throw.

“As an American, performing in Europe has been my goal since I first came here, but it takes a long time to feel like you have the respect of the European peloton,” Williams admitted. “Coming from the track, I like when the bunch is chaotic and I love the fight for positioning and I can get quite emotional and vocal, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But you have to fight for your spot and I hope this showed that I will always try to be in there with my team.”

One of the toughest in the peloton, Williams bounced back from two crashes at Sunday’s Ronde van Drenthe and is even racing with chipped teeth – which she says with a chipped smile and a lightness of humour are “more aero.” As detailed in a recent interview with Velo, 2024 is a huge year for the American’s progress.

“A big part of progress is the years it takes to learn to and develop, but also having the team today who committed to the plan and helped me save as much energy as possible,” she explained. “When you look at my numbers from today, they aren’t that special, but I can get so much more out of my physical performance by being with a group that can execute the race tactically, and I am excited to see what is to come.”

Human Powered Health was active throughout the race with Audrey Cordon-Ragot, and Maëlle Grossetête both going in moves.

“In the finale, the girls put me in a great spot and I was able to just follow the key riders without the chaos of positioning myself,” said Williams. “It’s simple in theory but hard to execute, even in the reduced bunch. Having had our riders represented in the front moves all day showed that we were flowing well with the race and pushing other teams to waste energy chasing.”

Next, the team shifts their attention back to Italy for Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 17th.

Danilith Nokere Koerse results
1 KOPECKY Lotte – Team SD Worx – Protime 3:15:55
2 WIEBES Lorena – Team SD Worx – Protime 0:17
3 WILLIAMS Lily – Human Powered Health 0:18
4 VAN ROOIJEN Sofie – VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team ”
5 SIERRA Arlenis – Movistar Team 0:22
6 MACKAIJ Floortje – Movistar Team 0:37
7 NORSGAARD – Movistar Team ”
8 BASTIAENSSEN Fauve – Loto Dstny Ladies 1:13
9 TRUYEN Marthe – Fenix-Deceuninck ”
10 SCHWEINBERGER Kathrin – CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling Team ”
13 CORDON-Ragot Audrey – Human Powered Health ”

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