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A teaching degree and playing elite Australian Rules football couldn’t keep former national champion Lizzie Williams away from cycling forever.
Williams retired from the sport in 2004, after winning the national criterium title, and in 2015, at the age of 31, returns to Ballarat with big ambitions.
“At a lot of the tours overseas they bring up all the national champions to the front of the line and to be there to represent Australia – that’s number one on my list,” said Williams.
“To win the criterium title would be great, but you can’t really wear the jersey overseas that much. Where as you can wear the national road jersey all year round in Europe.”
In 2014 Williams burst back onto the scene racing in the Subaru National Road Series before being awarded the Amy Gillett Foundation scholarship and racing across America and Europe.
In a three-month stint of international racing the Victorian has had no fewer than 20 top-10 finishes.
She was also the best-placed Australian in La Course, which preceded the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France this year.
And now she is part of the Orica-AIS team, which is the realisation of a childhood dream.
“To be able to race and get paid for it is great. As a teenager, that’s all I wanted to be, a professional athlete. And now I’m 31, and I’ve finally got my dream,” she said.
At the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships Williams will ride alongside current Australian road champion, Gracie Elvin, and the criterium champion Sarah Roy, and keeping both titles within the squad is the top priority.
“When it comes down to it, as long as the jersey is in our team it really doesn’t matter who is wearing it. As long as we take it with us overseas,” said Williams.
The Orica-AIS team has dominated the race road since the team’s inception, winning the past three editions, but they haven’t had such a strangle hold on the criterium.
Sarah Roy, who also joins the team for 2015, won the criterium in 2014 as a relative unknown.
The pressure will be on Orica-AIS and the team’s new recruits, like Williams and Roy, for the 2015 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships.