Williams Bounces Back to Take Fifth

Lily Williams of Human Powered Health weaved through the final sprint of the Setmana Valenciana stage race in Southern Spain to finish fifth on stage 4. Arriving in Valencia at the end of a 118 km rolling parcours, the American used all of her track skill to navigate the final kilometre and close out the race with a top five, ahead of the likes of Marianne Vos (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) and Elena Cecchini (Team SD Worx – Protime).

“I do relish the opportunities to sprint,” said the 29-year-old after her successful stage. “It feels good to bank some miles and finish with a positive result to set up the Belgian spring which is my main block for the year.”

The journey to this top five is one that started two months ago for Williams after she suffered a double collarbone separation at the Four Days of Geneva track cycling meet. In that time, she used Zwift to the best of her ability to aid her physical recovery.

“I did not lose a bit of fitness during my month on Zwift,” she enthused. “I probably gained some with the forced pause. I do well on the ergo and enjoy it so even though it has been a challenging experience, the recovery process was super smooth.”

Off the bike, Williams also sought help from the team at Thorne and the Human Powered Health medical team to explore how supplementation would aid in her recovery. Williams emphasised the importance of having consultation time with her sports psychologist for her mindset over this recovery period.

“It’s been helpful to have access to resources like Thorne and our team of physios for recovering,” she stressed. “I did a lot of work with my sports psych to get through the injury, or any further ‘setback’.”

Since her return, Williams has also noticed growth within herself in the first months of 2024. “The whole process has been a great growth experience that has pushed my limits and stress tolerance, which is a big component in being a leadout rider and sprinter.” These are skills that Williams has been able to develop through the season already. “I think I’ve shown that I can do a really good leadout, so it’s nice to have the chance to develop myself in the sprints and hopefully be an option for the team on certain days.”

Earlier in the stage, Alice Wood showed her mettle, riding in a two, and later three-rider breakaway for much of the day. Marit Raaijmakers was also active chasing into a four-rider move and marshalling the escape as the peloton headed into the city where the all-rounder placed second in the Vuelta CV Feminas.

“Everyone did a great job today following moves,” says Williams. “Alice was in the break of the day, and we positioned Ruth [Edwards] well into the climb. On the chase back, Marit, Yuliia [Biriukova] and I were able to sit in and recover and once we regained contact with the main bunch, Marit and Yulia were able to follow some late race attacks. Katia [Ragusa] covered a bunch of moves early, so everyone was able to do something good today.”

Next up for the team is a double race weekend, as half the team stays in Spain for the Classica de Almeria the other half heads to Omloop Nieuwsblad and the start of the most exciting one-day racing period of the season – the Spring Classics.

Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage 4 results
1 BALSAMO Elisa – Lidl – Trek 14:13:30
2 SIERRA Arlenis – Movistar Team ”
3 QUAGLIOTTO Nadia – Laboral Kutxa – Fundación Euskadi ”
4 NELSON Josie – Team dsm-firmenich PostNL ”
5 WILLIAMS Lily – Human Powered Health ”
6 CECCHINI Elena – Team SD Worx – Protime ”
7 JANSEN Eline – VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team ”
8 KUMIEGA Karolina – UAE Team ADQ ”
9 VOS Marianne – Team Visma | Lease a Bike ”
10 RÜEG Noemi – EF Education-Cannondale ”

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