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Michael Woods withdraws from Itzulia Basque Country following stage 3 crash

Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) lead home the chasers
Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) at the Volta a Catalunya (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) was a non-starter at Itzulia Basque Country on Thursday due to the hand and shoulder injuries he sustained in his crash in the finale of stage 3 the previous afternoon. 

The Canadian said that he had withdrawn from the race as a precaution ahead of his major targets of the Spring at the Ardennes Classics.

"I’m pretty disappointed to have to abandon the race. I was on pretty good form and I still am, but I have to look at the bigger picture. My big goals are the Ardennes and I don’t want to make things worse," Woods said on Thursday morning.

Woods was near the head of the peloton when he crashed at the base of the final climb to Ermualde with a little under 5km to go on Wednesday. He remounted and completed the stage, albeit almost 10 minutes behind winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) came down in the same crash as Woods and was unable to complete the stage due to his injuries.

"My hand is pretty sore at the moment and so is my neck, and I just think it would be a bit of a risk to continue racing and a risk to the Ardennes," Woods said. "I know I’ll be back and feeling good in a few days, and I’ll be good for the Ardennes."

Woods had placed 5th on Tuesday’s hilly stage to Sestao, consolidating a solid start to the 2021 season that had seen him win a stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var and perform strongly at the Volta a Catalunya.

"My teammates set me up so well yesterday, I wanted to finish it off for them, but I just had some bad luck," Woods said. "That’s bike racing sometimes. But I’ll be back."

The next races on Woods’ schedule are La Flèche Wallonne on April 21, where he placed third last year, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he finished second behind Bob Jungels in 2018.

Woods, who is in his first year at Israel Start-Up Nation, is later scheduled to ride the Tour de France ahead of his main target of 2021, the Tokyo Olympics.

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