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.
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