Stephen Williams: Welsh rider signs two-year Israel-Premier Tech extension

Welsh cyclist Stephen Williams has signed a two-year contract extension with Israel-Premier Tech (IPT).

Williams, 27, won August's Arctic Race of Norway to record the second stage-race victory of his career.

The former Bahrain-Victorious rider was a last-minute recruit for Israel-Premier Tech in December 2022, after the collapse of another team.

"I settled in very well at IPT as I knew a lot of the riders prior to signing," said Williams.

"It didn't take long to feel at home and settle in and I have a great relationship with the staff and riders on the team."

Williams signed his first professional deal with Bahrain-Merida in 2019 but suffered an 18-month setback in his career following a knee injury.

The Aberystwyth-born rider went on to win a stage and take overall victory at 2021's Cro Race, as well as winning a stage at the Tour de Suisse in 2022.

He was due to join the new B&B Hotels team with Mark Cavendish for 2023, before the project collapsed.

In May, Williams completed his first Grand Tour - finishing 93rd in the Giro d'Italia - and was third at the British Road Race Championships before his success in Norway.

"I'm happy and racing well in a good environment where I can continue to progress and race the biggest races in the world," added Williams.

"Having raced well mainly through the summer and into autumn, I want to continue to improve by winning more consistently and having a real impact on the team moving forward for the coming years."

IPT sports manager Rik Verbrugghe considered it an easy decision to extend Williams' contract, saying: "Stevie is a talented cyclist with a lot of potential and, in addition to that, he is a great team-mate who really contributes to the team dynamic.

"Stevie has quickly become a core part of our climbing group and he was instrumental in helping Mike Woods win in Occitanie, so it was fantastic to see him have his own success with the win in Norway after working hard for the team all season.

"We believe Stevie hasn't yet reached his full potential and we look forward to working with him in the coming years to really see what he can do at the stage races and Grand Tours."