Israel – Premier Tech’s Canadian duo Mike Woods and Derek Gee put the hammer down in the O Gran Camiño time trial to produce career-best performances in the race against the clock.
Woods fought until the line to defend the yellow jersey and delivered his best time trial performance to date and first top ten result, ultimately coming just seven seconds short to finish in second on the General Classification. While Gee, who stepped up from Israel Cycling Academy for the race, put in the ride of his life to move into the hot seat and eventually finish the day with the fifth-fastest time in an incredible display of strength.
After winning stage two and moving into the race lead, Woods started the day with a 10-second advantage over Alejandro Valverde and went on to concede 17 seconds in the 15.8-kilometer rolling time trial.
“I’m really pleased with my time trial today,” said Woods. “Especially considering how the last 24 hours went as I wasn’t feeling very well and I think the stomach bug from last week has reared its ugly head again a bit. Last night I was even thinking I might not be able to race but then I felt good this morning. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the TT bike and although I didn’t hold onto yellow, I still finished in tenth in the stage and I’ve never had a top ten in a time trial before so I can be really happy with my performance today.”
Woods takes confidence from this result knowing his early season goals are still to come.
“I’m right on track now. The goal of this race, especially after getting sick last week, was to use it as a building race and to still be building and finish second overall in a stage race and win a stage are signs of good things to come.”
Derek Gee must have heard the cheers all the way from Ottawa because his performance against a world-class field was nothing short of exceptional and the smile from the young Ottawa native at the finish line suggested it’s only a sign of things to come.
After three tough days of riding at the front to help defend Woods’ jersey, Gee found the legs to dig deep from the moment he rolled down the ramp in Sarria. What makes his ride even more impressive is the fact that he didn’t have a radio or follow car behind and had no idea how well he was doing until he crossed the line to find out he had clocked 20:30 to set the provisional best time.
“It was definitely the best time trial I’ve ever done by a long way. It was really cool to do that here. It has been an amazing week learning from these guys who are some of the best in the sport and some of the most experienced in the sport. So to be able to race with them and then finish it off with a performance that I am really proud of, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Gee, having not wiped the smile off his face since crossing the line.
“I had absolutely no idea how well I was going. I figured it was the last stage so I would go full gas and see how it went. I wasn’t looking at numbers or anything and it was only when I crossed the line, Alexis, the soigneur, told me. I couldn’t believe it. I was hoping for a top 15 so I am really, really happy.”
Israel – Premier Tech set the standard from the beginning of the time trial when Matthias Brändle set the bench mark time of 21:00. He was knocked out of the hot season by Mads Würtz Schmidt, who went five seconds faster, while Alessandro De Marchi rounded out the provisional podium at the halfway point in the race.
In the end, with Gee and Woods finishing fifth and tenth place respectively on the stage, Israel – Premier Tech finished with six riders in the top 20 in a show of time trialing prowess.