Israel Start-Up Nation got its first-ever podium place on a Tour de France stage as Michael Woods finished third on stage 8.
Already at the beginning of the day, Woods had declared that he was eager to seek his chances on this first big day in the mountains. When a big group of riders finally managed to distance the peloton, Woods was quick to join the move and bridge across to the front riders.
Staying attentive at all times, Woods never let any dangerous riders get away and on the steep Col de Romme, the penultimate climb of the day, the strong Canadian decided to go solo and leave everybody else behind.
At the top, Woods had about one minute on the first chase group. However, on the slopes of the final climb, Col de la Colombière, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) managed to come back to the front. Woods hung on for as long as possible but in the last few hundred meters, he had to let go. Teuns went on to win the stage, while Woods finished his courageous day on the bike with an impressive third place in Le Grand-Bornand.
Michael Woods: “I knew I was on a good day when we went up the first KOM climb already, and I got a confirmation of that when I was able to bridge across to the front group on the next climb. I’m proud of myself for that one. In the past, I would have given up on that one, but I knew that if I just kept pushing, I would get across and be able to recover.
“After that, I started focusing on both the stage win and the KOM jersey. It was good to have Rik [Verbrugghe, sports director] in my ear, giving me some pointers; to play it conservatively on the first cat 1 and then go after it on the next one. I saw Yates attack on the second cat 1 and I knew that if I countered, I would get a lot of freedom and be able to just ride my own pace.
“On the last climb, I knew that I just had to keep my own tempo not to blow up, so that’s what I did. Teuns came back so fast and I really suffered, trying to hang on. I can’t be disappointed though. I did the best race I possibly could. I covered as many moves as possible early on and I was aggressive. I raced to win and sometimes when you race to win, you’re going to lose, but at least I tried.”