Belize Sport: Justin Williams Aiming to Retain His Title at the 2019 Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic
The Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic is one of the cornerstones of the sporting calendar in Belize, and the race recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. The popular event always attracts a sizeable audience, with both locals and visitors turning out in their droves to vociferously pledge their support to the riders. Belizean participants are understandably popular, and Justin Williams’ 2018 success in the race was celebrated vehemently from the roadside. The Los-Angeles native, who grew up in a Belize community, is likely to return in April and will be bidding for yet another podium finish.
2018 wasn’t the first time that the 29-year old has successfully landed the richest prize on the annual cycling calendar. He was also triumphant four years earlier, claiming a hard-fought victory to finish the race in just under six hours. Post-race, Williams admitted that he was carried by the crowd, who were desperate for Belizean success and he went on to dedicate his unlikely triumph to everyone in the country.
The race originated in order to encourage locals to brave the bumpy roads, and it has grown in both stature and popularity ever since. There have been a flurry of foreign winners over the last decade, which has not necessarily gone down well with the natives. As a result, Williams’ victory was widely celebrated and a repeat of that achievement is likely to provoke a similar reaction in April.
Despite not being based in the country, he regularly visits Belize, and has recently participated in the National Road Championships. In 2018, he picked up a podium finish in 30 of his 35 races and is an extremely consistent rider.
The current amateur U.S. National Road and Criterium champion has previously spoken of his desire to represent his nation at the Tour de France. His dream of wearing the Belize flag on his jersey in the annual road race is a realistic ambition, and it would potentially help inspire the next generation of Belizean cyclists.
The country has never won a stage of the hugely popular event, with the competition largely dominated by European nations such as the UK, Belgian and France in recent years. The hosts have chalked up the most wins to date, and Romain Bardet is 33/1 in the latest cycling betting to add to their impressive tally in 2019.
Williams has already placed fourth in the Carlos Soto Memorial Criterium this calendar year and comes off the back of a tremendously successful twelve months. He’s recently been mentoring younger cyclists in his sport and has set up his own racing program. He has showcased his entrepreneurial spirit, by successfully getting it off the ground without the help of team sponsorships. He arrived at the idea, following a number of setbacks, and he’s been widely praised for his unique and groundbreaking approach. He is not afraid to take risks and that never-say-die attitude has helped him throughout his career so far.
With plenty in the pipeline, Justin Williams has an extremely busy 2019 ahead, but he always makes time to return to Belize. He will be hoping for further success in the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic this year, and he will undoubtedly be roared home by a huge partisan crowd once again.