Canadian cyclist Michael Woods running with Vuelta leaders

    Going into the third week of the Vuelta a España, which is only Mike Woods’ second Grand Tour ever, our Canadian is within the top ten overall and has impressed fans and media throughout the world. The Star sat down to the Ottawa rider on the second rest day and talked about Vuelta preparations, the guys that helped Woods get to where he is now and his career.

    Canadian cyclist Michael Woods is turning heads in just his second Grand Tour event.

    The 30-year-old from Ottawa enters the final week of the Spanish Vuelta riding high in eighth place, holding a 33-second edge over three-time winner Alberto Contador of Spain in ninth. And Woods is contending despite the uncertainty concerning the future of his Cannondale-Drapac racing team.

    Cannondale-Drapac, managed by Slipstream Sports, is reeling from the loss of a sponsor. A crowdfunding effort had raised US$2.4 million as of early Monday but the goal is $7 million.

    British star Chris Froome leads the general classification standings of the 21-stage, 3,324.1-kilometre race, which ends next Sunday in Madrid. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali is second, 61 seconds behind, with Russian Ilnur Zakarini another 1:07 back.

    Woods is 3:26 behind Froome going into Tuesday’s 40.2-kilometre individual time trial.

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    Woods credits B2ten, a privately funded organization that helps Canadian athletes, for his growth in the sport. Their assistance included a two-month high-altitude training camp in Colorado this summer.

    “I kind of suffered like a dog every day on the bike and came out of the training camp in the best shape of my life,” he said. “When I came to the race here, I told my team ‘I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m ready to do something special.’ And the team believed in what I’ve said and they’ve been super-supportive of me here. The teamwork that has gone into my performance here has been unreal.”

    Read the entire article on TheStar.com.