Frameries, Belgium – Tyler Williams was the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's best finisher Wednesday at Grand Prix Cerami.
The Santa Rosa, California, resident finished 13th, 15 seconds back of solo winner Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) in the Belgian semi-classic. Williams was part of the leading group of 30 riders when Wallays attacked with 10 kilometers left in the 210.8-km race that finished with three laps of 13.2 km on a local circuit.
"It was a really tactical race in the final two laps with a lot of attacking," Williams said. "So I was surprised that Wallays attacked. I was trying to pick the moves I followed, but unfortunately I did not go with the right one. I thought Etixx-Quick Step would chase it back, but because no one had more than two or three guys up there there wasn't any cooperation."
Williams, the bronze medalist at the USA Cycling Under 23 national champion road race earlier this month, said he overall that he pleased with his performance.
"This race had a high level and I was right there in the mix where I know I can be," he said. "So it was a great boost for confidence and shows that when I am good I can be with the best."
Another Axeon Hagens Berman rider, Eddie Dunbar, figured prominently in the middle part of the race. The Irish national time trial champion attacked the peloton to chase an eight-man breakaway that had been clear since the 44-km mark. He closed to within two minutes of the escapees on the last of five categorized climbs but could not reach them.
"There was lots of attacking at one point and there was a few splits showing, so I countered a move when there was a stall – hoping people would come with me," Dunbar said. "But when I looked back there was no one. I didn't go too deep as there was still 100 kilometers left. But I was happy I got to ride the last cobble section on my own at my pace as I would have struggled to stay with the bigger guys in the bunch over it. All in all, it was a good hard race and everyone on the team rode well."
Dunbar and the other four Axeon Hagens Berman riders in the race – Will Barta, Latvian national road and time trial champion Krists Neilands, Phil O'Donnell and Justin Oien – all finished in the pack, 2:06 behind the winner.
File photo of Tyler Williams from Paris-Roubaix Espoirs by Joyce Jason Ghijs.