Rigoberto Uran's run at the 2016 Giro d'Italia's maglia rosa suffered a setback on Thursday when Cannondale Pro Cycling announced that Michael Woods broke his hand in a crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and will miss his planned debut at the Italian Grand Tour.
Woods started his first season with the US WorldTour team in January with two podium stage finishes at the Tour Down Under on his way to fifth overall. He put in solid performances at Volta a Catalunya and Pais Vasco, finishing 18th overall in Catalunya, and then was 12th at Fleche-Wallonne. He ran out of luck in Liege, however, when a crash with about 20km remaining sidelined his spring campaign.
“That’s been the hardest part about dealing with the crash, is the fact that I was feeling really good,” Woods said. “I had a good one at Flèche. I wasn’t positioned great, but I had the legs to have a top result at Liège. Maybe not to win, but definitely contend for a top five.”
Woods said he is also experiencing pain in his back, but an examination is pending. The hand injuries alone are enough to keep him off the bike for now. The team said the time frame for Woods' return is not yet known.
“Once they have a clearer picture as to what’s going on with the back I can set a clear timeline for getting back on the bike,” Woods said. “The sad part about cycling is it’s often more than one injury. If I was just dealing with a broken hand, it would be fine. It’s the back, too. Getting into bed is a five-minute ordeal."
“My wife’s been helping me get dressed,” Woods said. “I feel like a four-year-old again.”
Woods was slated to make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia when it starts in Apeldoorn on Friday May 6, assisting in Uran's bid to win the overall. The team will need to shift gears now, although there was no word from Cannondale on who would take Woods' place.
“Rigo’s got a really good shot at winning and I would have liked to be a part of that,” Woods said. “But there’s still quite a few opportunities left in this season. Rio is a big goal of mine this season. I’m still looking forward. This is definitely not a lost season. This will definitely make me come back stronger.”
And despite the rough ending to his inaugural Ardennes Classics campaign, Woods took stock in his 12th place finish in Fleche Wallonne and what it may portend for his future in the Ardennes races.
“I think they’re tailor-made for my abilities,” he said. “As unfortunate as it is crashing and getting hurt, I don’t think the crash reflects on me as a bike handler. I think the courses really suit me, and I’m really excited about that. The undulation, the technical side of it, it’s just fun. And the crowds are unreal.”