Williams wins the stage and takes yellow in Ronde de l’Isard
The 2018 edition of Ronde de l’Isard kicked off with a hard stage that featured none other than the Col du Portet d’Aspet and an uphill finish to Eycheil. The day started with some nervous riding in the neutral zone before the 11-man break took off. Our 19-year Daan Hoole represented the Academy colors in that move, and they went on to hold almost four minutes to the bunch. In the main group, behind our riders worked together to keep the legs fresh for the climbing section of the day. 

Once the race hit the tough slopes of the Col du Portet d’Aspet, the breakaway group was down to six riders with our strong Dutchman crossing the top in third place. Hoole’s group kept their gap close to the minute in the valley and they arrived with 50 seconds to the bunch to a reduced group of around 40 riders. Our first year U23 stuck with the front group at all times, and with 3 kilometers to go Williams launched his attack. The Welshman quickly bridged to the front group, and after following the pace set by his teammate for half a kilometer he went solo all the way to the line. 

This one accounts as the first win of the season for Stevie Williams, who also goes on to take the leaders jersey. Our strong climber will start tomorrow with 12 seconds over the second classified rider. Ide Schelling completed an amazing day and rode into the Top 20 of the day and now sits 16th overall. Tomorrow’s stage holds another mountaintop finish up the Goulier Neige. 

Stevie Williams, stage winner and yellow jersey wearer: 
“It is such a great feeling to win today. Ronde de l’Isard has been in my goal-list ever since the beginning of the season, so it is just amazing to kick it off like this. On the last climb, I felt good so I just went and never looked back. I want to thank my teammates because they did an amazing job all day keeping me safe and in a good position. Tomorrow there’s another hard day so we let’s see how it goes, but morale is high and we have already shown what are we capable of”.