Strong debut seasons see Williams and Roy return for 2016Thu 12 Nov 2015
2015 debutants Lizzie Williams and Sarah Roy will return for another year having impressed in their opening seasons with ORICA-AIS.
The pair signed with the Australian outfit with individual comeback stories – Williams returning to the bike after a ten-year hiatus and Roy building foundations after a plethora of injures hindered racing between 2010 and 2013.
Williams hit the ground firing, claiming a podium finish in her very first hit out at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic on January 2 in Geelong. The 32-year-old went on to win silver at the Oceania championships and take her first professional victory at SwissEver GP Cham-Hagendorn in May – ORICA-AIS’ first European win for the season.
“This year has really been a breakthrough year for me both professionally and personally,” Williams said. “I'm not going to lie, it was a rocky start, and early in the season I realised that I had a lot of work to do. But I tackled the challenges with a positive attitude and didn't allow myself to become overwhelmed with it all.”
“During this season I learned to manage my nerves and anxiety around racing a lot better which has limited me in the past. Having a supportive and encouraging team around me is a huge reason why I've had success and seen massive growth as a professional cyclist.”
Sport director Gene Bates credited the 32-year-old's instant results and ability to learn.
“We really threw Lizzie into the deep end early with some of the biggest Classics that women can do and she took it all in and we were seeing some great results from her in the last half of the season,” Bates said.
“She had her first win in Hagendorn in Switzerland in late May and she has really gone from strength to strength since then. She has developed into a really strong and dependable rider for us.
“Lizzie is not 18 but she learns like a little kid. She is screaming for any advice she can get and she is really putting it to good use and that’s great to have within the group.”
Roy, the 2014 Australian criterium champion, had slower start to 2015 courtesy of illness, but made a big step up in strength later in the season – an asset enjoyed by the outfit, particularly during the world championships.
“This year was a bit of a shocker personally with the injury and illnesses because I didn't race half as much as I would have like and when I did I wasn't in great shape,” Roy said.
“I had unreal support from Gene, the team and all of the girls which made it a really enjoyable year anyway. I also learned a huge amount from the preparation for the world championship TTT, which was unexpected, but has definitely made a better bike rider out of me.
“I feel very lucky to be back for another season after having one of "those" years but I'm really looking forward to next season. This is certainly my dream team; we really back each other on the bike and kill ourselves laughing off the bike.”
Bates credited Roy’s persistence to bounce back from countless setbacks.
“Sarah attended the training camp and did one day of racing in January but then was out with illness and injury for a long time,” Bates explained. “It wasn’t until May/June until she really started to race with us properly again and when you miss that portion of the season it’s always a really steep learning curve to jump back into a group that has been racing for six months already.”
“To her credit, she bounced back into it and really focused on getting back to a really good level before the end of the season and she was one of our stronger contributors in the team time trial over the two month period towards the end of the season.
“Sarah really brings a big engine to the group. When she is doing lead-outs or bridging gaps, that’s when she is at her best.”
Both Williams and Roy emphasised their plans for big off-seasons and early season form.
Date of Birth: 27th February 1986 (28)
Turned Pro: 2013
- 2014 National criterium champion - Australia
Date of Birth: 15th August 1983 (32)
Turned Pro: 2015
- 1st 2015 SwissEver GP Cham-Hagendorn
- 2nd 2015 Oceania Championships - Road Race