Michael Woods (EF Education First - Drapac) sat in a team car parked strategically just over the top of the Zoncolan post stage, deeply fatigued after attacking to try to win the stage, and coughing hard due to a nasty case of bronchitis that has recently derailed his Giro d’Italia.
The Canadian was never targeting the overall classification at this year’s corsa rosa after being sick in the spring but he wants a stage victory badly and saw his chance to roll the dice early on the Zoncolan. He attacked with about 6.5km to go, after teammate Hugh Carthy had hit out but been caught. Woods lead the race until Wout Poels put everyone under pressure and set up Chris Froome’s stage winning attack.
Woods paid for his bid for glory, eventually reaching the summit of the Zoncolan in tenth place, 1:43 behind stage winner Froome, and admitting he had attacked too early.
“I've been sick. I have a really bad cough, but I figured I might as well give it a dig,” he told Cyclingnews as he coughed and pulled on dry, warm clothing for the ride down to the team bus on the other side of the Carnia mountain.
“I think if Poels wasn't pulling for Froome I might have had a shot to get a bit of distance and then find my rhythm but he brought me back. Then I died a thousand deaths for the next six kilometres.”
“We came here to race to win. Even though we're strong climbers, we're not the best. We at least try. Hugh [Carthy] did a dig early on, I did a dig. If you don't try you're never going to win.”
Woods was affectionately considered as the ‘rookie’ after his late entry to professional after his running career but he was prepared for the Zoncolan. He knew what he was facing.
“I reconned this three weeks ago, and I knew it was the hardest climb I've ever done, and it was,” he concluded.