Woods and López leave Tour de France with Tokyo Olympics in mind

Tour de France 2021 - 108th Edition - 17th stage Muret - Col du Portet 178,4 km - 14/07/2021 - Michael Woods (NZL - Israel Start-Up Nation) - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021
Michael Woods at the Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

With the final mountains out of the way, Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Miguel Angel López (Movistar) have left the Tour de France with a view to the Olympic Games. 

Both riders finished stage 18 at Luz Ardiden on Thursday but opted not to start of stage 19 on Friday. 

Woods had always made a big target of the Olympics and had doubted he'd ride all the way to Paris, until he was announced as Israel Start-Up Nation's general classification candidate shortly before the Tour. 

However, those ambitions were quashed as early as the opening day when he was caught up in the mass stage 1 crash. He has since switched his attentions to stage hunting and the polka-dot jersey, placing third on stage 8 in the Alps and fifth on stage 14 in Quillan. 

The latter put him into the polka-dots but he only lasted a day before Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) snatched the jersey. 

Both riders battled it out for the points on Thursday's final mountain stage, with Poels riding clear on the Col du Tourmalet, even if the jersey eventually went to overall leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

Woods opted not to ride on to Paris, giving him more time to recover and travel to Tokyo.

"In order to recover properly from his past crashes in the Tour de France and to get ready for the Olympic Games, Michael Woods won’t take the start at today’s stage," read a statement from Israel Start-Up Nation on Friday morning. 

As for López, early crashes also ruined his GC plans after coming into the race in fine form. 

The Colombian has been a quieter presence since then but has rallied to support Enric Mas in the Pyrenees. His Spanish teammate placed fourth at Luz Ardiden to move up to sixth overall. 

As with Woods, the fact that only a flat stage and a time trial remain before the final ride into Paris means there's little for López to gain beyond reaching the finish. 

"A challenging race for him, with plenty of setbacks early on. With mountains now over, having helped the team as much as he could, he'll now focus on resting up for the upcoming events," read a Movistar statement. 

López was only named as a reserve in Colombia's squad for Toyko, with the first five spots instead going to Rigoberto Urán, Sergio Higuita, Esteban Chaves, Nairo Quintana, and Daniel Martínez. 

However, Colombian journalist Hector Urrego reported last night that there is a chance López could now get the call-up and that he has left the Tour with the Olympics in mind.

As for Woods, he has more clear-cut leadership role in Canada's three-man team, alongside Hugo Houle and Guillaume Boivin.

The elite men's road race takes place on a hilly course near Mount Fuji on Saturday July 24.

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

Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.