Michael Woods continued a six-year run of top 10 finishes at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, finishing in the chase group behind Remco Evenepoel in 10th place at La Doyenne.
The Canadian was part of an elite chase group sprinting for podium places 43 seconds behind the Belgian, who had jumped away on the Côte de La Redoute some 29km earlier to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Woods, part of the group with Israel-Premier Tech teammate and 2019 winner Jakob Fuglsang, later said that he didn't have enough superlatives for how Evenepoel had attacked and soloed to victory on what was his first participation in the race.
"He was just on a day," Woods told Cyclingnews after the finish of the 257km Monument. "I mean amazing. It's hard to come up with more superlatives in describing how he rode.
"With that attack on top of La Redoute, everyone just watched and was impressed. You got a feeling that once he was gone, no one was catching him."
That proved to be the case, with Evenepoel's unstoppable attack propelling him away down the descent and to a victory that looked in little doubt even with almost 30km of hilly roads left to run.
Woods said he and Fuglsang weren't up at the front of the main group when Evenepoel jumped away, the pair not expecting any moves to stick so late on La Redoute.
"We were a bit back as I think we were lulled into this false sense of security," he said. "Once you get that far up La Redoute, if someone attacks it's just not going to stick.
"That's just from experience – that's how I've always ridden La Redoute. You think, 'oh well, if attacks go off here then they're coming back' except when Evenepoel does it."
He said that, despite he and Fuglsang ending up in 10th and 13th places, the team's execution during the race had gone to plan, even if the result wasn't what they had aimed for.
"A lot of disappointment," was Woods' initial assessment of the result. "Like last year but this year even more so there was a headwind on Roche-aux-Faucons, just even stronger.
"I tried my hardest to get separation with a strong group of guys but there wasn't enough cohesion because of the headwind. Then it comes down to a sprint and it's so tricky in a headwind sprint to beat anybody of that calibre. Jakob helped me out in the final, but we hit the wind too early.
"I think I went to plan," he said of his team's execution of their ideas for the day. "Maybe I could have gotten earlier on the earlier phases [of Roche-aux-Faucons] because I felt really good, but the plan was to actually save it a bit more for the last climb and try and really make the difference there. But just again, the headwind was just too strong."
Sixth at La Flèche Wallonne and 10th at Liège were disappointing outcomes from the Ardennes for a man who has stepped on the podium of both races in the past. He walks away from spring and into the Tour of Romandie with a victory a stage at the Gran Camiño stage race – even if illness had affected his form in recent months.
"I've really struggled with illness," he said. "I was sick even in Camiño the night I won. I came down with another illness, and I've been struggling with it since.
"It's been a tough two months, but I'm finally getting healthy now and finding my legs and I think I'll be good for the rest of the season."
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Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, he had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.