By David Parsons
Stevie Williams has described his triumph at the Tour Down Under in Australia as “simply perfect”.
The Welshman won the last stage in Adelaide to confirm his victory in the overall title.
“To kick off the season with the team’s first overall tour win, and our maiden victory in a top-tier stage race is nothing short of marvelous. It’s simply perfect,” said Williams, who rides for Israel-Premier Tech.
“That finish is perfect for me, it’s so punchy. I’ve got a knack of being able to hold and hold and hold.
“And luckily I was able to get back on the wheel, read the situation and capitalised, opened up with 250 to go and everyone’s legs were dead by then, so I thought if I got the jump, then I’d be in with a good chance.
“Everything goes through your mind. Just how hard this sport is and to win races, they don’t come around very often. To do it here in Australia, the first world tour race of the season is fantastic.
‘Underestimated’ no more: Stevie Williams powers to victory at Tour Down Under https://t.co/GU1W3NZkcx
— Cycling Weekly (@cyclingweekly) January 21, 2024
“Just really proud to come down here to start the season like this on the front foot and head back to Europe and continue on.”
Williams was in a front group of five riders who fought out the hilltop finish at Mt Lofty in the Adelaide Hills.
After a series of attacks on the three-kilometre climb to the finish, Williams timed his charge to the line perfectly.
It was Williams’ debut at the Santos Tour, and he is also the first European overall winner of the race since 2013.
The Israel-Premier Tech rider took the overall lead on Saturday, when he finished second, immediately behind young Scot Oscar Onley, on the hilltop finish at Willunga.
Huge congrats to Stevie Williams on his GC win @tourdownunder!
The Welshman took today’s nail-biting stage win in a thrilling sprint finish and is the first ever British winner of the Ochre Jersey
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) January 21, 2024
Ecuador’s Jhonatan Narvaez finished second on the stage and was also second overall, nine seconds behind Williams.
Onley, who was tied for the overall lead with Williams on time, dropped to fourth overall.
Mexico’s 20-year-old sensation Isaac del Toro, who led the Tour earlier in the week, finished third in the stage and was third overall at 11 seconds.
Williams, 27, joined Israel Premier Tech about a year ago after the Aberystwyth-born rider had suffered a series of injury problems.
Corbin Strong, the team’s lead rider, had to withdraw from the race due to illness, so Williams stepped up.
“We trusted him. He was simply incredible,” said Sam Bewley, the New Zealand director of Israel Premier Tech.
— Graham Thomas (@Graham_Thomas) October 20, 2020
Williams praised the team’s effort in the victory and added: “The guys helped me stay ahead, and on the final climb, all I wanted was to stay on the wheel of any rival who broke ahead.
“I held on against every attack, including the last one from del Toro of the UAE Team Emirates.”
“With 200 meters to go, I told myself, ‘Go for it’: I gave everything I had, attacked, and won. It doesn’t get better than this.”