Israel Start-Up Nation has taken the iconic polka dot KOM jersey with Michael Woods after a courageous effort by the Canadian climber on stage 14 of the Tour de France. This is the first ever leader’s jersey for ISN in the the Tour!
With its undulating profile, today’s stage had breakaway written all over it. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a furious fight to make it into the right group at the start of the day. After nearly 100 km of fighting, a group finally managed to get away. Having been attentive near the front the whole time, waiting for the optimal moment, Woods was quick to get up the road and join the leading riders.
“From that moment on, I was trying to play my cards right,” Woods explained afterward. “I didn’t want to spend too much energy fighting Poels for the KOM points, but I also had to take more points than him, which was a difficult task because he’s so strong.”
On the following three categorized climbs, Woods picked up nine KOM points which put him in the virtual lead of the competition.
Unfortunately, on the penultimate descent, Woods suffered a minor crash, which meant he had to expend significant energy chasing back to the front group. Shortly after he made it back, Bauke Mollema [Trek-Segafredo] attacked and soloed away.
At the top of the last climb, Woods put in another strong effort, crossing the line in second place, sealing his move to the top of the ranking in the KOM competition.
“It was a nice feeling, knowing I had taken the jersey, but I was also cursing myself for crashing. I was so disappointed in myself. Still, I knew I was on a really good day and I’m really proud to be riding in the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Especially on familiar roads in Andorra,” Woods said.
In the end, Woods finished fifth on the stage, his second top-5 place in this year’s Tour de France after taking third on stage 8. An impressive result, but – to Woods – only one thing mattered today.
“Growing up, I didn’t know anything about cycling, but I always watched the Tour and I found that the KOM jersey was the coolest jersey of them all. It’s truly a dream come true to be in that jersey now. I hope I can get a good night’s sleep so my body can recover, and I will be able to enjoy it tomorrow.”