The course design and the stunning climb characteristic of the final grand tour of the 2022 season appeal to the style that Woods champions. With three wins this year, he wants to continue this time on a ground he especially loves.
In 2018, Woods snatched the first Grand Tour stage victory of his career with a Bizkaia Terrace victory. An emotional triumph he dedicated to his son Hunter, who was stillborn at 37 weeks gestation.
He repeated this feat, in 2020, during the seventh stage. Among other things, he beat crowd-favorite Alejandro Valverde to sign the second stage of his career, all after finishing second the day before on top of Tourmalt, ahead of another local flavor, Spaniard Ion Izaguirre.
This season, Michael Woods’ game plan has been put in place so that he can enjoy success again over the next three weeks.
Woods said at a press conference on Wednesday that I had already been thinking about Vuelta and had already mentioned to the team that I wanted to focus on the general classification. By targeting steps only [au Tour de France]I had the impression that I came out of it better mentally to handle the Tour of Spain general classification. I’m happy to tackle the overall standings here because even though I’m giving up time on the team and individual time trials, there are plenty of other opportunities to make up for lost time. I am happy to take on this challenge.
Of the 21 stages in the program, Woods selected the ninth, between Villaviciosa and Les Prairie, to try the big shot there. The 171.4-kilometer stage, which includes two Class 1 passes, one during the last four kilometers of the race, will put the most courageous climbers, including the Canadian, to the test.
” The roads suit me well, the hustle and bustle…I’m excited to get back out there and start from there. Getting started in the Basque Country from the early stages will be quite a challenge. »
The Israeli-Canadian team did well at the Tour de France last month. Hugo Holly’s historic victory on July 19 was the team’s second after Simon Clarke’s victory in the fifth stage. Even if Holly and Clark don’t start at Volta, Michael Woods intends to continue the momentum in recent weeks.
Because of the Tour de France, we are in a good place as a team. We created the momentum with the wins, and I think we can start the Vuelta with confidence. Thanks to Hugo and the riders at the Tour de France, we are ready for the Tour of Spain.
Chris Froome’s optimism
Chris Froome, another frontrunner at Israel-Premier Tech, agrees.
We are a very young team on the World Tour stage, and winning two stages in the Tour de France, the biggest race on our calendar, is a huge success for our team. There’s good dynamics, good emotions if we take into account our progress, and hopefully we can build on that in the Vuelta.
Despite his lack of experience, Froome is not surprised by his team’s recent successes. The past has often shown him that beautiful things can happen when you least expect them.
In cycling, anything can happen. You can try to plan as much as you want, it is rare that you can achieve what you planned. Everything went without incident at the Tour de France. We were hoping to win at least one stage, win twice, with Simon Clarke on the gravel, in an iconic stage, and then Hugo’s win, which was so emotional for everyone, was so special for us as a team.
The Briton will be a strong ally of Woods as the latter aims to achieve the highest honors in the Spanish overall standings. An exceptional soldier, already decorated twice in the Vuelta, can play the role of the Joker if his body allows it. He knows what the Canadian needs if he wants to impose it on the cumulative.
For Michael, racing for an all-around spot for three weeks is a very different task than what he’s faced in the past in one-day races, he explains. You have to know how to be consistent for three weeks, deal with the unexpected, and prevent the days when you’re not at your best from turning into a disaster.
” The challenge for him will be to see the race as a three-week event, and push himself with that perspective in mind, which he hasn’t done successfully before. But the course suits him well and we have an outstanding team to support him. »
Chris Froome was forced into retirement at the dawn of the 18th stage of the Tour de France after contracting COVID 19, and had a major physical disability for ten days. Returning to his teammates, it took a while before he was able to complete the high intensity training sessions, which significantly slowed his preparation for the Tour of Spain.
The quadruple champion on the Champs Elysees knows that the first week of the race will serve as a barometer for the following days. If his legs cooperate, Fromm thinks to himself
more than willing To target certain stages and possibly aim for victory in the final days of the competition.
Feeling that I have a special relationship with the Spanish crowd, I captivated the 37-year-old cyclist, who has very good memories of the Tour of Spain, whose last participation dates back to 2020. I love what the Vuelta is putting to the test. The battle for the top of the general classification is tough. There are several stages that end with a steep climb, and many more mountainous stages than other grand tours where the battle is going on mano mano among the main competitors.
Canadian Michael Woods will be the only Canadian to start the Vuelta on Friday in Utrecht, Netherlands.
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