When it came to racing in Belgium and France a year and a half ago, Ella Willey knew what she was doing. At the end of last summer, the young Kiwi signed a 2-year contract with Australian World Tour team Liv AlUla Jayco. A good investment by manager Brent Copeland as the 21-year-old rider instantly delivers 2 New Zealand Championship titles to his new team.
In fact, GreenEdgecycling's investment paid off immediately. Because Ella Willey immediately picked up multiple World Tour points at the Women's Santos Tour Down Under. He finished 7th in the general classification of this 3-day world tour. Just ahead of Belgium's Julie van de Velde, she finished 57 seconds behind eventual winner Sarah Gigante, 23, of Australia's AG Insurance-Soutal team. That ranking was finalized for Willunga Hill in the final stage. Willie finished 7th in that position.
After the Tour Down Under, Willie returned to New Zealand. There to ride in the national championship. They were a huge success. The Auckland-based rider won the U23 title at the time trial championships. Other promises from her motherland did not come close to her time. A silver medalist era among the elite. Only Kim Gatso, a past rider with Team Jumbo-Wisma, rode faster.
Willie was happy with the national time trial title. She added 2nd in the road phase. Elites and Promises competed together in that title battle. 122.5 km in and around Timaru. The New Zealand Championship turned out to be a true elimination race. In the end, only 3 riders crossed the line together. Willie is faster than Katso and is now active at EF Education-Cannondale and Samara Maxwell.
“The championship was over 5 laps with a short climb,” says Willie. “I always tried to be very alert. I sometimes tested my legs on that climb, but it was on the last lap that I went out. As a result, we started the final straight with 3. During the Australian summer I learned to run a little faster. During training I was against my coach. I often went from one traffic signal to another and it was not a futile task.
Willie convincingly won the sprint for the national road title. He takes over the jersey from Ally Wollaston, who has already won a stage at the Tour Down Under this season. He could soon be heading to Europe in his champion jersey. It is yet to be decided which tournaments he will participate in with us. World Tour races Omloop Heid Neusblad and Strate Bianche are on Liv AlUla Jaiko's calendar.
Willie will probably look forward to the Walloon project next spring. Last year, he was already introduced in the Lifeplus Wahoo shirt with the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Huey finished 27th on the wall. His best finish in that type of competition. Later in the season she scored very well during the women's Tour de France. She finished 16th, more than 15 minutes behind Demi Vollering, but was only ahead of Frenchwoman Cetrin Gerbal in the youth classification.
Park Hotel Valkenburg
That means Ella Wiley will be going on a grand tour in the coming years. When he signed his 2-season deal with Liv AlUla Jayco – the team formed by the merger of Liv Racing TeqFind and the Jayco AlUla team – the New Zealander expressed his desire to one day win the yellow jersey.
“Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is a special race, so I dare to dream of that yellow jersey,” says Wyllie, who will also be introduced to several races this year. “This is my last season with the reserves. It opens up perspectives for youth classifications in the multi-day events I ride. But the main objective will be to help my strong teammates win.
In the summer of 2022, Ella Wiley came to Europe alone. He put his studies on hold and soon found accommodation at the Continental Parkhotel Valkenburg and stayed in the clubhouse of the Dutch team. What seemed like a bold venture at the time has paid off very quickly as the New Zealander looks set to score a world tour for the long haul. Excited to see how her career will grow further!
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