On Saturday, Carter Woods broke away on the final lap to win the first under-23 World Cup XCO of 2021. It’s exciting for the young Cumberland, B.C. rider, who wins his his first World Cup event, and for his Norco Factory Team
It’s big news for Canadian cross country fans as well. While Catharine Pendrel has led an incredibly successful Canadian women’s program, Woods’ win is the first time a Canadian man has stood on the top step of a World Cup cross country podium since Geoff Kabush’s Bromont win in 2009.
For those that have been paying more attention to Canada’s other successful Woods (the two are not related, despite their shared last name), Carter already has several national titles to his name, spread over cyclocross and in cross country mountain bikes. He was also fourth in the junior men’s race when mountain bike world championships were last at Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2019. Woods’ win Saturday, though, is his first international victory. And it comes at a especially meaningful venue, too.
We caught up with Carter Woods between training sessions for the second World Cup in Nove Mesto to find out how his win in Albstadt played out, how he adjusted to racing again after the extended off season, and what his goals are for this weekend’s race in the Czech Republic.
Canadian MTB: First off, congrats on the win! How did your race play out?
Carter Woods: Thank you! Yes it was a pretty exciting race for me. After a 3rd row start my goal was to get into the lead group on the start loop. After I got there I decided to chill in the pack for a few laps to see what everyone was doing. Lap three I went to the front for the first climb to make the group smaller. After the group was established I knew it would come to the last climb so I waited for my shot and put I all down on the last climb.
This isn’t the first time you’ve contested for a win in Albstadt. What happened last time? How does it feel getting to come back and win on the same course?
Yes it was great redemption after the last time I was in Albstadt! When I raced there as a junior I sorta played the same race but I was leading into the finish and made contacted with another rider. We both slammed into the metal fencing. Whoever’s bike wasn’t broken took that one, haha.
You’re over there with the Norco team. Peter Disera had a big result in Friday’s XCC. How much does it help having more experienced World Cup racers around? Does something like Peter’s result affect your racing?
Yes I am very lucky to have my Norco Factory Team teammates and staff around me. I have learned so much in the last season and can’t thank them enough. There is a very big “family feel” throughout the team. We are always happy for each other!
There’s been no racing in Canada in the last year and you’ve only had a couple chances to line up internationally. How do you prepare to race after so long, especially knowing the riders you’re up against have been racing most of that time?
Racing for me is something I really enjoy its a test for all the work that is put in. Even if I am not on a proper start line I am always racing. Whether it is up a local climb of doing a mock race with the Norco squad racing never feels far away.
After winning in Germany, what are the goals for Czech Republic this weekend?
I have always loved the Nove Mesto track, it is one of my favourites. It’s a new weekend so time to refocus and see what I can do on Saturday.
Some under-23 racers are opting to start the elite races. Others – like Mona Mitterwallner, the women’s u23 winner and yourself – are choosing u23. Was racing up to elite an option you considered? And if so, how was the decision to race u23 made?
As this is the first real full year of racing u23 for me it was not something I considered. I still have two more years in the u23 category, it may be something I consider later on.