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Champion: Michael Woods earns first career stage race title at La Route d’Occitanie

Three wins in a season is a career high for the Canadian

Photo by: Sirotti

Michael Woods has earned 11 victories since 2015, including two Vuelta a España stage wins and the 2019 Milano-Torino one-day race, but on Sunday he claimed his first career stage race title, crowned champion of France’s four-day 46th La Route d’Occitanie-La Dépêche du Midi in France. Woods grabbed a large lead at the top of the GC in winning Saturday’s queen stage and then defended his orange jersey during Sunday’s frantic, windy conclusion. Not only is he the first Canadian to take the title, he is also the third North American to do so and the first in twenty years.

Sunday’s profile seemed mild after Saturday’s climb-heavy queen stage, but Woods and Israel-Premier Tech would have to be wary of ambushes as they were down to five riders.

Strong crosswinds blew the race apart just past the midway point, but Rusty and a teammate were in the right split.

On Friday, stage 2 of La Route d’Occitanie was shortened to 39 kilometres because of the extreme heat that has baked most of Western Europe for the past week. With a sprint win Roger Adrià (Spain/Equipo Kern Pharma) seized the marmalade-coloured jersey that Woods would pluck from him on Saturday.

Woods killing it on his way to victory on Saturday. Photo: Sirotti

In late February Woods won Stage 2 of Spain’s Gran Camiño, wearing the leader’s jersey for two days before finishing runner-up to Alejandro Valverde by seven seconds. Three wins in a season is a career high for the Canadian.

Woods is expected to be named to Israel-Premier Tech’s Tour de France squad. The biggest race in the world starts in 12 days in Copenhagen.

2022 La Route d’Occitanie-La Dépêche du Midi Stage 4
1) Niccolò Bonifazio (Italy/TotalEnergies) 4:13:48
2) Matteo Moschetti (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
3) Max Kanter (Germany/Movistar) s.t.
15) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) s.t.

2022 La Route d’Occitanie-La Dépêche du Midi Final GC
1) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) 14:33:47
2) Carlos Rodriguez (Spain/Ineos Grenadiers) +1:16
3) Jesús Herrada (Spain/Cofidis) +1:21