Michael Woods had to settle for second at the CIC Mont Ventoux Challenge after a strong display at the race. Attacking with four kilometers to go and being joined by Domenico Pozzovivo in the final kilometers, Woods was out-kicked by the day’s victor, Lenny Martinez (Groupama – FDJ), but gained his first podium of the year.
The original parcours would see the riders tackle several smaller climbs before taking on Mont Ventoux twice, but the second ascent was cancelled due to a weather warning. The race would therefore be decided on a shortened stage, with one climb up Ventoux. The pace was very high even from the foot of the climb, but Woods, with four kilometers to go, put in a big attack and blew the peloton apart. Veteran rider, Domenico Pozzovivo, could not immediately follow this attack, but with one kilometer to go, he managed to join Woods and instantly started working on the front of the reduced group to thin it down. At five hundred meters to go, his work was done, and he dropped back to let Woods take on the finale. In the end, Woods was pipped to the post to finish second place. Pozzovivo was not far behind, finishing fifteen seconds back in seventh.
Woods was happy to see he was up there in terms of his form but was disappointed he couldn’t get on the top step of the podium.
“I’m pleased with my form, but I’m disappointed with the result. I really thought I had a good shot at winning, but I just didn’t play my cards as well as I could have. With the shortened stage and headwind it didn’t really suit me, but I’m pleased that my form is really good. I just need to do some final touches and I’ll be there to win. The teamwork was excellent today, the guys were great, so I wish I could have finished it off a bit better, but I can’t really be too disappointed with second place.”
Domenico Pozzovivo was also happy with his performance and hopes he can repeat this success at the coming races.
“We took responsibility for leading the race from the start and I think we raced very well. Michael showed very good shape and I tried to help him in the steeper last two kilometers of the climb. I think even though we didn’t win we can be happy about our performance today and confident for the upcoming Tour de Occitanie.”
Sports Director Oscar Guerrero was pleased with the result, as it showed the riders have more to give, but knew first place was definitely possible today.
“It was a great job from the team, we took on the responsibility of leading the race from the beginning, because when they shortened the parcours, the race was only one hundred kilometers, with one climb of Mont Ventoux, so we didn’t want a big breakaway. At the bottom of Mont Ventoux, we started riding again to make sure the race stayed together until six kilometers to go when it gets really steep, which is better for Michael. The last two kilometers are the hardest of the climb and Domenico managed to get back to the group, so he started pulling to keep a good pace there. I think the difference was really small, but we couldn’t quite get the win. But second for Woods, seventh for Domenico and then fourteenth for Riccitello is very good. The team worked well, and we gave it everything to win, and we couldn’t quite manage it in the end, but this is a good sign of things to come.”