It’s official: confirming rather tantalizing rumours started by none other than Jonathan Vaughters, manager of the Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team, Mike Woods is going to Garmin.
The team made the announcement late Thursday.
On Wednesday, Canadian Cycling Magazine deduced the possibility that Woods would be suiting up in Garmin gear, after Vaughters tweeted, “What is oxidized, found in trees, runs like a Gazelle, and will be colored green in 2016?” Our thoughts, just to recap: “Rust” for his nickname “Rusty,” “trees” in reference to his surname “Woods,” “runs like a Gazelle” suggesting his past career as a track and field athlete, and “green,” of course, for the Garmin colours he was speculated to soon wear.
With the team’s news on Thursday, that speculation has given way to enthusiasm — and nobody, it seems, shares it more than Vaughters himself. A long-time admirer of Woods’s, Vaughters said, “Mike is the real deal. He runs a 3.57 mile and is a former New Balance-sponsored runner and junior Pan Am Gold medalist.” What struck the Garmin principal most about Woods, though, was how he made the transition into cycling, completely on his own.
“He wasn’t a part of any development team and he got where he is by hard work,” Vaughters said. “Once he got the chance to ride for Optum, he was able to ride in some bigger races with smart teammates and directors. ”
As CEO of Slipstream Sports, Vaughters has had a unique vantage point from which to watch the 28-year-old rider’s career unfold, jumping from Garneau-Quebecor in 2013 to Armore & Vita – Selle SMP and 5-hour Energy in 2014, and finally, to Optum this year. With the top-tier results the last few years have yielded for the Canadian rider — a second-place overall finish at the Tour of Utah being the most recent — Vaughters thinks “Rusty,” in time, could become one of the greats.
“While he’s got a long way to go,” the former pro rider said, “I think he could be one of the top Ardennes riders in the world someday. And if he does that, I will be happy and proud, because he will have earned it the hard way. ”
For Woods himself, long familiar with Slipstream Sports — Garmin’s managerial organization — his imminent move, he said, is the realizing of a dream.
“I followed the team when I was running,” Woods said, “and I knew if I ever somehow got into cycling, it was the team I would want to be a part of. I always liked what the team stood for, and they always seemed to have a great group of riders. Getting picked up by Cannondale-Garmin is a dream come true for me.”