Canadian Michael Woods’ early season Portuguese run continues to be a success as he took his first professional win at the Clássica Internacional Loulé Capital Europeia do Desporto on Sunday. In his first year with Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, Woods finished 10-seconds faster than Portugal’s César Fonte in the 158.5-km, UCI 1.2-rated race.
In late February Woods placed 12th in the Portuguese stage race Volta ao Algarve where Sky’s Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) took the win. Once a middle-distance runner, climbing-specialist Woods was the top Optum rider and the best rider from a non-ProTour squad. His best day was Stage 4 when he came fifth on a mountainous route.
“Racing at Algarve definitely had an impact on my performance today,” Woods said after Loulé. “Throughout that race, I really felt like I was riding at a level that I have never ridden at before, and this gave me a big confidence boost. Combine that with a solid recovery week and our team pre-riding all of the course and we felt like we had a shot at winning. The team was phenomenal today, even though we had some guys that are really sick and some who were not able to start. When Guillaume told me to attack with 10 km to go in the race, I had the confidence to do it, and a solid sense of where I needed to launch.”
Ryan Anderson and Phil Gaimon were too ill to start the race. Eric Young started the race affect by a head cold. He was unable to finish.
Woods’ compatriot and teammate Guillaume Boivin was fifth on Sunday and Will Routley was 86th. Jesse Anthony of Optum was third.
— Guillaume Boivin (@Guillaumeboivin) March 1, 2015
— Deanna Woods (@4_deanna) March 1, 2015