Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) is nine stages deep into his first Grand Tour. The native of Ottawa already has two fifth place finishes in the Giro d’Italia’s 100th edition and is currently sitting 8:26 back on race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in 22nd overall. However, the general classification was never the main target for Woods, instead the race has always been about stage wins.
“I have been really happy with my performance. With the long season that I had prior to this race I came into the Giro targeting individual stages knowing that tackling the GC would be a tall task,” Woods said. “Had we brought the break back on Stage 6 and 8, I would have had a legitimate shot at winning the stage.”
Grand Tour’s are unique on the UCI WorldTour calendar and the challenge of riding them extends beyond the 21 stages of grueling racing. “It has been a pretty special experience. The scale of this race, from all perspectives, is greater than any I have done before,” Woods said reflecting on the race so far. “I have also been on solid form, so to be one of the favourites on stages 6 and 8, and to have that attention has been cool.”
Woods said that grappling with the length of the Giro has so far been the biggest challenge. “When you aren’t feeling great, in all of the races I have done in the past, you find motivation in the fact that the race is almost over. However, we still have 12 days of racing left at this point,” Woods said. “There were certainly points during Stage 5 and 6 where I wasn’t feeling great—and where I would normally be wrapping a week long race—thinking ‘man, I still have 16 stages left of this!’”
On the race’s second rest day, Woods said he is pleased with the sensations. With 12 stages left, Cannondale-Drapac and Woods will be looking for opportunities to put their mark on the race. “We now have Davide Formolo in the white jersey and he is riding great, so we are certainly going to rally around him,” Woods said about the team’s ambitions in the coming stages. “However, my goal and the team’s goal, has been to go after stage wins.”
Woods is still looking for his first win as a member of Cannondale-Drapac. In 2015, he took a win at the Tour of Utah and he’s been nipping at the heels of another big result over his first season and a half at the WorldTour level. “I did come undone on Stage 9, which put the nail in the coffin for any further personal GC ambitions, but this will give me a lot more room to go after my original goal, going after stage wins,” Woods said.
The race resumes with a 40 km time trial on Stage 10 before medium mountain and transitions stages bring the race to the high mountains of northern Italy. “I am feeling good today and I am looking forward to targeting a few key stages in the next 12 days of racing.” Woods said. “I am really looking forward to the entire last week of racing, as I have never done a race that is longer than 13 days. I am excited and nervous to see how I fare.”