Mike Woods' season will kick off in earnest this weekend as he takes to the start line of the Tour du Var for three days of racing in the Alpes-Maritimes region of France, a race that will mark a series of firsts for the Canadian. It will be his first time at the race, his debut for his new team and his first race aboard his new bike, the Factor Ostro VAM Disc after joining Israel Start-Up Nation in the off-season.
The Canadian joined from EF Pro Cycling, reconnecting with team performance manager, Paulo Saldanha, and team co-owner, Sylvan Adams. "Paulo and Sylvan are the reason that I am a pro cyclist today," said Woods at the time of his transfer announcement. "I first met Paulo in 2013, and he immediately took me under his wing. He pushed me to quit my jobs, and he told me I had the ability to be a pro."
Woods' primary role will be in support of Chris Froome's Grand Tour aspirations but he will not be without opportunities of his own. He will also lead the line in the classics alongside Sep Vanmarcke, who coincidentally also joined the team from EF Pro Cycling this winter. But for the first race of the season, both he and Vanmarcke will ride in support of Dan Martin.
The team will be riding aboard the all-new Factor Ostro VAM, a bike that was first spotted beneath Martin at the Tour de France last year, and later launched to the public as a meld of aero and lightweight performance.
The bike is dressed in Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 disc brake groupset, yet unlike his teammate Froome, who recently spoke of disc brakes' pitfalls, Woods has had plenty of time to familiarise himself with the technology, having ridden the same groupset in previous seasons with his former team.
The Israeli team is wholly committed to discs for a second season, however, instead of using a complete Shimano setup, they are the only team in the peloton that will be using rotors and brake pads from aftermarket braking specialists, SwissStop. In addition, they're one of just two teams (alongside Astana-Premier Tech) to be utilising CeramicSpeed's OSPW (Oversized Pulley Wheel) derailleur system, which is claimed to save 2.4 watts.
Wheels come courtesy of Factor's sister-brand, Black Inc, with the lightweight, shallow 'Thirty' hoops. These are wrapped in customised Maxxis High Road tyres complete with the team's #YallaAcademy slogan printed on the sidewalls.
The cockpit is also courtesy of Black Inc and follows the recent trend of hidden cabling and maximal integration, routing the brake hoses and Di2 wiring through the bar, stem and into the frame.
Tech Specs: Mike Woods' Factor Ostro VAM Disc
- Frameset: Factor Ostro VAM
- Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Brake pads: SwissStop 34 RS
- Rotors: SwissStop Catalyst
- Brake/shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace with CeramicSpeed OSPW
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 11-30T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace with 4iiii power meter
- Bottom bracket: CeramicSpeed
- Wheelset: Black Inc. 30 tubeless
- Tyres: Maxxis High road 25mm
- Handlebars: Black Inc Integrated Barstem
- Handlebar tape: Black Inc
- Stem: Black Inc Integrated Barstem
- Computer mount: Black Inc/Hammerhead
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
- Saddle: Selle Italia Nuvos Boost Evo
- Seat post: Factor (OSTRO)
- Bottle cages: Elite Superleggero 2.0
- Computer: Hammerhead Karoo 2
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Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.
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