Michael Woods had a stunning ride on Sunday to finish third at the UCI Road World Championships men’s elite road race in Innsbruck, Austria. It was Canada’s first elite men’s podium performance since Steve Bauer finished third in Barcelona in 1984. Only the ageless Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Frenchman Romain Bardet bested the Ottawa-native. Woods has blessed us with insight into his ride to bronze posting it on Strava with power and cadence. Let’s take a dive into Woods performance.
Over 270-km, Woods averaged 36.4 km/h with an average power output of 217 watts. His average cadence was 85 rpm. The temperature on the day was perfect for a long day in the saddle hovering in the high teens and low twenties over the 7 hours and 27 minutes of riding Woods did on the day.
The main difficulty on the circuit was the Iglis climb which the peloton tackled seven times. The pace on this climb gradually ramped up throughout the day. Woods fastest time up it was set on the final ascent. Over sixteen minutes, after tackling it six other times keep in mind, Woods averaged 338 w with an average cadence of 83 rpm. Over the top only Strava KOM holder Michael Valgren was away.
The race was set to be decided on the now infamous and much hyped Höttinger Höll climb which lived up to the hype, especially for Canadian fans watching Woods smash the stiff gradients which maxed out at 28 per cent. Up the cruellest segment of this climb where Woods forged ahead with a very select group of riders and lead the race, Woods averaged a leg-numbing 411 w with a painfully slow cadence of 76 rpm and average speed of only 14 km/h on the 13 per cent gradient.
If you were watching the race closely, you’ll have noticed Woods had to come back from midway through the pack to be in a position to lead. Strava confirms this. Woods got the KOM on the 1.8 km segment going a full 22 seconds faster than Romain Bardet who trained on it in the days leading up to worlds.
On another part of the climb, which overlaps with the later segment on Strava, Woods did 420 w for 4 minutes and 22 seconds. For this 1 km segment averaging 14 per cent, Woods went a full 32 seconds faster than Bardet. The closest rider who posted his race on Strava was Sepp Kuss who went 15 seconds slower than Woods but that was on a training ride before the race. Woods effort on this climb should not surprise anyone. As a rider with a history in the 1,500 m on the track in running, his standing up power on steep ramps is absolutely world class. Woods fastest 1,500 m running race was achieved in 2006 and he ran it in a time of 3 minutes 39 seconds.
Valverde, Woods and Bardet were away down the backside of the climb with Dumoulin close in chase. Dumoulin would eventually join the leaders but his legs were cooked for the sprint which Valverde was forced to lead out.
In the sprint, Valverde proved the fastest with Bardet nipping Woods for second. Woods said he cramped in the sprint, a fact perhaps confirmed by the relatively low power numbers in his effort. For 25 seconds, Woods averaged 643 w maxing out at 1,002 w at a speed maxing out at 59 km/h.
If you are aspiring to win a world championship title one day, you now have roadmap for what it simply takes to be there in the final sprint for the line.