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Six Canadians confirmed for Strade Bianche

Michael Woods returns from leg injury in white gravel debut

Photo by: Sirotti

On Friday EF Pro Cycling confirmed that Michael “Rusty” Woods will be making his debut in Saturday’s Strade Bianche, bringing the Canadian content of the two WorldTour races to six riders. Woods is joined by fellow Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games selections Hugo Houle, Leah Kirchmann and Karol-Ann Canuel and Israel Start-Up Nation duo Alexander Cataford and Guillaume Boivin. FloBikes will be showing both the women’s and men’s races starting at 6:10am PDT.

Woods returns to racing after suffering a broken leg in March’s Paris-Nice. His comeback included a Virtual Tour de France victory two weeks ago. Right now Woods is penciled in for the Tour de France, which means that he would probably race the Critérium du Dauphiné August 12 to 16 in preparation.

Houle’s season was COVID-19 interrupted after 12 race days and 27th place in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. All of Kirchmann’s pre-pandemic racing was in Oceania, where she won the points jersey at the Tour Down Under. Canadian champ Canuel has seen some 2020 action in Spain, mostly in February and July. Boivin leads the Canadian contingent with 23 racing days, including COVID-19-shortened Paris-Nice. Cataford, who recently received a contract extension, was in the chaotic UAE Tour.

The races will be dusty affairs as the Tuscan sun has baked the white gravel. The men’s and women’s squads have been riding the roads in recon.

The men’s WorldTour series will see its first return stage race starting August 5 at the Tour of Poland with Italian Monuments Milan-San Remo August 8 and Il Lombardia August 15. With multiple cancellations since the new calendar was introduced, the women’s side will have to wait until August 26 for GP de Plouay–Lorient Agglomération Trophée.