Even prior to co-founding and co-owning a professional cycling team, Justin Williams was a well-established figure in bike racing.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Belizean cycling legend Calman Williams, Justin Williams has impacted the sport in numerous ways and seems to be nowhere near done.
Williams, 34, won’t compete in the Maryland Cycling Classic this year. The event is scheduled for August 31 to September 3, 2023. He will cheer on L39ION of Los Angeles co-owner, younger brother and teammate Cory Williams, and L39ION of Los Angeles member Robin Carpenter.
For the decade and a half that he has competed professionally, Williams has amassed numerous championships locally, nationally and internationally. Most recently, Williams won the Belizean national road race championships in June 2021.
Beginning the L39ION of Los Angeles along with Cory Williams in 2019 not only marked a significant moment in professional cycling but placed the siblings among distinguished company in American sports. The two are quite possibly the only Black owners of a pro cycling team in the U.S. and are part of only a handful of Black athletes who reached the executive ranks in their respective – with the likes of Michael Jordan (who recently sold the Charlotte Hornets) and Doug Williams (NFL).
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Williams’ specialty seems to be criterium racing though he has excelled in nearly all disciplines.
“I want to change the sport of bike racing in America,” Williams said in a 2021 interview with Red Bull. “It has to be different, so it’s more vital and appeals to a broader group of people. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on that change, but I stopped letting people control what my destiny is going to be a long time ago.”
Williams’ career began in track racing with key wins in the USA Cycling Junior Track National Championships from 2006 to 2008. After competing on the professional road racing circuit in Europe from 2007 to 2010, Williams took a hiatus from the sport. He then returned to pro racing in 2016 and wound up winning 16 races in his first season back. He won back-to-back National Amateur Criterion championships in 2018 and 2019.
Over the course of his career, Williams shared some of the same observations as so many other Black cyclists: the glaring lack of diversity. Oftentimes, he found himself as the only minority competing in many of the bike-racing events he participated in. These experiences are some of what led him to team ownership.
Now, L39ION of Los Angeles is widely considered the face of diversity in pro cycling as the Williams brothers lead a generation of game-changers in bike racing.