Michael Woods came up short in his hunt for a medal in the elite men’s road race at the Tokyo Olympics Games. The Canadian was part of a select chase-group that sprinted for the silver and bronze medals, behind solo winner and gold medallist Richard Carapaz (Ecuador), but he finished fifth at the Fuji International Speedway.
“My goal was to try and get separation and attack on the final circuit, but I just wasn’t strong enough to get away. I have no regrets. I did all I could," said Woods, who left the Tour de France early for extra recovery ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
The elite men’s field contested a 243km race that included a total of 4,865 metres of elevation with five ascents: Doushi Road (80km), Kagosaka Pass (100km), Mt. Fuji (140km), Mikuni Pass (205km) and Kogasaka Pass (215km), before finishing at the Fuji International Speedway.
Woods followed an attack from Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) over the penultimate climb, Mikuni Pass, and together with Brandon McNulty (USA), they formed a three-rider lead group. It increased to 13 riders when a group that included Carapaz and Wout van Aert (Belgium) bridged across.
McNulty and Carapaz then attacked and gained a maximum of 40 seconds on the small chase group that included Woods.
Carapaz rode away from McNulty within the last six kilometres to take the Olympic gold medal for Ecuador. Van Aert won the small chase-group sprint for the silver medal while Pogačar finished with the bronze, and Bauke Mollema (Netherlands) was fourth and Woods fifth.
Woods’ performance ranks as the second-best finish in Canadian men’s road cycling history after Steve Bauer’s silver medal at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. Woods also competed in Rio 2016 with a fractured hip where he finished 55th in the road race.
Woods will turn his attention to the next Olympic cycle with a goal of securing a medal at the 2024 Paris.
“The Olympics are one of those races that really motivated me as a cyclist, and if Paris is a challenging course, I think I’ll for sure keep it going until then. That’s going to be a big goal of mine for sure.”
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.