Mechanicals end Michael Woods’ defence at Tour du Var

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var 2021 53rd Edition 3rd stage Blausasc Blausasc 136 km 21022021 Michael Woods NZL Israel StartUp Nation photo William CannarellaCVBettiniPhoto2021
Michael Woods of Israel Start-Up Nation wore the race leader's jersey on stage 3 at Tour du Var (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

A desperate run of mechanical problems for the Israel Start-Up Nation team in Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var ended Michael Woods’ ambtions of winning the race with the Canadian falling short by just five seconds.

The final day of the three-day French stage race saw Woods’ yellow jersey hit by all sides as his overall rivals looked to put the Canadian on the back foot almost from the very start. A large group containing eventual stage and overall winner Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) broke clear before the finish with the Italian making his own solo bid with 11 kilometres to go. The Italian came into the stage 13 seconds off the lead, and with Woods’ group eventually coming over the line 18 seconds down, Brambilla ensured he and his team enjoyed a double victory.

For Woods, who won stage 2 in convincing fashion and at times dragged the entire chase group alone without any assistance on the final stage, it was ultimately a disappointing day in the saddle. He lost two key teammates, Daniel Martin and Hugo Hofstetter to mechanicals at important points, and those blows had an inevitable impact on the speed of the chase group.

“It was a really tough race,” Woods said after the race. “Trek proved that they’re a really strong team and they earned that overall win but I felt that our team rode super well. “Unfortunately some mechanical cost us and those were the seconds that we needed in order to keep the general classification."

While the result on stage 3 was a blow for Woods and his team, the Canadian acknowledged that he had at least started the year in flying form and that he settled into life on his new squad with relative ease.

“I think that I’m second overall, I’m not sure, but I think that I am,” he said at the finish line. “It’s disappointing that I couldn’t keep the jersey because I felt like I was the strongest guy here. I think that I proved that on the climbs and in the race but it’s disappointing. I came out of this race so well, so I really can’t complain with how I’m starting off the year.

“I was confident, you just never know,” he said when asked how he felt coming into the final stage.

“It’s such a hard race to control and Trek are such a strong team. I knew that if I was going toe-to-toe with guys then I had a good shot at winning but just those few mechanicals cost us in the race. We had Hugo and Dan having mechanicals, and that meant that we had to slow the pace down to collect them again and if we had not done that I think that would have made the five second difference.”

Woods, 34, moved to Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of 2020 after spending five years at the Slipstream organization. His next outing comes later this month with Faun-Adreche Classic on February 27.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.