Stephen Williams wins Santos Tour Down Under

Debut victory for Factor Bikes in WorldTour

Israel – Premier Tech’s Stevie Williams sealed the deal at the Santos Tour Down Under on Sunday, winning not only the final stage but the overall classification in the process.

Factor Bikes and Black Inc are excited to have been a part of this incredible victory. It is Factor’s first WorldTour stage race win, which fittingly was secured at the same event teh brand was launched, 8 years earlier.

“With the caliber of riders we had here, we were backing ourselves and we weren’t here to make up numbers, that’s for sure,” Williams said. “I’m really proud to come down here and start the season like this on the front foot.”

At the start of the day, the result was far from a sure thing since Williams was tied on time with the stage winner from the previous stage. It took an incredible amount of teamwork and race craft to put Williams into the position to win the stage. Former two-time Santos Tour Down Under winner and current Directeur Sportif for Israel – Premier Tech, Daryl Impey understands the value of bonus seconds and made sure his team kept Williams in a position to take advantage of every opportunity.

With particular help from road captain Simon Clarke and bodyguard Guillaume Boivin, the team protected Williams throughout the stage, and positioned him perfectly for the finale. The final hilly day finished on a punchy climb where Williams was able to capitalize on his ability to weather attacks from all sides, then pounced with barely 250 meters to go. He outsprinted some of the strongest riders in the world to take a huge win.

“That finish is perfect for me. It’s so punchy. And I have to say, the bike feels incredibly fast,” Williams said. “Everyone’s legs were dead by then so I thought if I got the jump, I would be in with a good chance. I would always back myself coming into it in a small, select group like that and to do it in this jersey as well, makes it even more special.”

He distanced the rider in second place overall by a good ten seconds, and held off some of the best climbers and puncheurs in the pro peloton. By taking the overall victory in the first WorldTour stage race of 2024, Williams reinforces the promise he showed in 2023 when he won the Arctic Race of Norway, but surely this has to be considered the biggest victory of his career so far.

“Cycling is funny because wins don’t come around very often,” Williams explained. “So once you get a victory like this, you have to make sure you enjoy it and take it in. For me to win a WorldTour GC at this point in the season is really important for my development.”

It also demonstrates the incredible depth in talent and trust within the team, which lost its sprinter Corbin Strong on Saturday due to illness. Nevertheless, the team pulled together to deliver this double victory of the stage and the overall classification. Sports Director Sam Bewley didn’t mince words when talking about how important this victory would be for the rest of the season:

“It’s huge. The best thing about it is that the Tour Down Under is a bloody hard race to win. It’s the first stage race of the season which means this group of guys will get on a plane back to Europe and take some real motivation into the rest of the season. "

Williams also credits his team for helping him score this great success:

“Honestly, the support the team has given me over the past two days has been incredible. I can’t thank them enough. The staff, soigneurs, mechanics, the boys, the riders, everyone. All week the boys have been amazing. They have done a great job and this is definitely a team victory.”

Considering the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under marked the 8th anniversary of the launching of Factor Bikes, this first WorldTour stage race victory proved to be well-timed and a wonderful testament. Factor and Black Inc Founder Rob Gitelis attended the race personally to be a part of the celebrations.

“Watching our team compete with such dedication is truly inspiring. As we celebrate eight years of Factor Bikes, this win highlights our progress and commitment to cycling excellence,” Gitelis said. “I’m incredibly proud of our team's journey and achievements. This win, along with hitting our 8-year milestone, reflects the passion and commitment at Factor Bikes. We look forward to continuing our legacy of success and innovation in cycling!”

Factor Bikes and Black Inc would like to congratulate Stevie Williams and the entire Israel – Premier Tech organization for taking a win ahead of one of the strongest fields ever to race at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Follow them to keep up to date with their season progress and race updates:

Israel – Premier Tech Pro Cycling Team