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Michael Woods to make Tour de France debut

The Canadian and Rigoberto Uran give EF Education First GC options

When Michael Woods didn’t contest his third consecutive Giro d’Italia in May, speculation began that he might be riding his first Tour de France this July. A recent interview with Cyclingnews confirms that Woods will be making his Tour de France debut. This means that there will be a Canadian at the Tour after two consecutive editions without Canucks.

Woods has four Grand Tours on his palmares: two Giros and two Vueltas a España, where he had been more successful. Rusty was seventh in the 2017 Spanish race and earned an emotional victory in last year’s edition.

Rigoberto Uran would appear to be EF Education First’s protected rider for the Tour. Although he crashed out of last year’s edition, the last three Grand Tours that he completed have been top-10s, with a memorable runner-up in the 2017 Tour to Chris Froome. But Woods and Uran’s situation might be like that of Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa in May’s Giro or Froome and Geraint Thomas in the upcoming Tour: if one proves stronger than the other, he gets the team support.

Right now Woods and his team are using the Dauphiné to determine his goals for the Tour. Perhaps his focus will be becoming the first Canadian stage winner since Steve Bauer in 1988, after joining Ryder Hesjedal as the only Canadians to win Vuelta stages.

Uran’s last stage race was the Tour of California, where he placed 14th. Woods has come top-10 in every stage race he had contested this season. Uran is skipping the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, but will ride the Route d’Occitanie June 20 to 23.

Woods is very much in the middle of the frenetic early action at the Dauphiné and sits sixth on GC after coming fifth on Monday’s stage. Woods and a powerful-looking Thibaut Pinot attacked on Monday’s final climb.

A recent disappointment for EF Education First is Daniel Martinez suffering hand injuries in a training ride wreck that will keep him from the Tour.