Michael Woods had no problems keeping his overall lead in La Route d’Occitanie thanks to another impressive team performance by his Israel – Premier Tech teammates on the final day of racing. Corbin Strong was fourth on the stage.
“It’s really special to win this race overall for a second time. This is an area I really like, not far from my home in Andorra, and to have my family and kids there to watch me win on Father’s Day was something really special”, Woods said after the podium ceremony.
With an undulating final day of racing on the menu, the IPT riders knew it wouldn’t be easy to control today’s stage. Omer Goldstein managed to get up the road to represent the team in the early breakaway, while the others rallied around Woods in the peloton.
The breakaway was allowed a gap of over three minutes before the peloton increased the pace significantly on the first big categorized climb of the day. Woods was always kept in a good position by his IPT teammates. Especially Stevie Williams proved to be on an incredible day, once again, riding his heart to make sure Woods never got in trouble.
On the final climb of the day, the peloton thinned out once more, leaving just a handful of riders in the group with Woods and Williams. More riders, including Strong, the leader of the points classification, joined the pack on the following descent and flat section, prompting a chase to catch the last two remaining riders from the early breakaway.
However, in the end, the leading duo managed to make it all the way with a gap of just a few seconds, while Strong did well to finish the day in fourth place. Domenico Pozzovivo was fifth in the general classification, just one second off the overall podium.
“Stevie was super impressive, climbing with the best climbers in the race, managing everything so well. I’m really proud about how he raced!” Woods explained. “The whole team did so well again today. It was just a shame that we couldn’t catch the break and have Corbin sprint for the win.
“In any case, I’m really happy with this race. My form is good and I’m super excited for the Tour now. I’m ready to go!”