Justin Williams Q&A: 'Cycling took me out of poverty'

The influential crit racer tells Cycling Weekly about his beginnings in the sport and the proudest moments of his career

Justin Williams in a pink jersey and a red bull helmet
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Justin Williams is a multiple-time US national champion and currently rider-manager for the UCI Continental team L39ION of Los Angeles, which he co-founded in 2019 with his brother Cory. In 2023, he created a new criterium racing series called CRIT, and continues to be a driving force in the scene.

What was your first bike?

My first bike was a Cannondale CAAD5. It had a yellow and red fade.

What was the first race you ever watched?

One of my best friends growing up had a massive collection of cycling VHS tapes and I remember watching a ton of Tour de France sprint stages.

Who was your cycling hero growing up? 

My cycling hero growing up was Rahsaan Bahati. I grew up with him, and he taught me everything that he knows. He looks like me, he talks like me, and I understood him. I also had a liking for Robbie McEwan, Paolo Bettini, and Alessandro Petacchi.

Who has been the most important person in your cycling life?

The most important person in my cycling life in the past has been David Pulliam, who was my junior coach at Major Motion cycling. I also thank my father and my family for making the sacrifices they did to support me. Also, Rahsaan Bahati for paving the way for me and for giving me opportunities to build experience and become the rider I am today. My little brother Cory, as of recently, has kept me in the sport and keeps pushing me to continue to compete at a high level.

Justin williams with his father and brother

Seventeen-year-old Justin (centre), with his father, Calman, and brother, Cory. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What is the proudest moment of your career?

I have a lot of moments that I am extremely proud of. Seeing more black people on road bikes stands out, as well as seeing people being proud of L39ION and what it stands for. Watching the first Into The Lion's Den [a criterium race put on by Williams's L39ION of Los Angeles with the largest prize purse in US crit racing history of $100,000] from my hotel room, winning The Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic in Belize, creating opportunities for deserving athletes who come home from Europe. There’s no one single thing that stands out. The list could go on and on.

What is the best place your career has taken you?

Out of poverty. London is OK, too.

What do you love most about crit racing?

My favorite thing about crit racing is the tactical and technical ability required to be good and succeed. It’s a thinking man's game.

If you weren't a cyclist, what would you be?

Probably a designer, or in marketing. Maybe a little bit of both.

What is your favorite thing to do off the bike?

I like to eat at nice restaurants with incredible people who either inspire me or I love deeply.

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