Peloton feature on local Crit Champ Justin Williams
The frantic fight for a wheel can have consequences—especially in the closing moments of a technical criterium with a five-figure purse—and in this case No. 99 wound up careening into a curb and then a fence and then a tree. The gap closed and the race continued without a pause. The finish banner was in sight.
Williams describes the final 200 meters of a race as if it happens in slow motion. “With maybe a lap left in a race, I just let everything go and breathe deep,” he says. “At that point, I’ve done all the fighting and the thinking and it’s time to get ready for one last big jump. I’m just monitoring everything around me and then sprinting—it can feel strangely peaceful compared to the rest of the race.”
In this case, Williams was able to come off teammate Scott Law’s wheel and drive to the line at 43 miles per hour and post up, with other sprinters strung out behind him. It was one of nine pro wins Williams has secured so far this year, the most recent being at the Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho. To consistently win at top pro crits is not easy. It takes massive power, piloting skill and a strong team, of course, but it also requires something else—a kind of illogical courage.
Williams, now 28, found that tenacity within himself early on, back when he was just a boy growing up in Central Los Angeles. “I was just an inner-city kid,” he says. “I had a ton of energy and athleticism and other sports just weren’t working out. My mom was emphatic that she didn’t want me playing football.”