VILLA REAL, Spain (VN) — Cannondale-Drapac is going all-in for a stage victory during this Vuelta a España with Michael Woods.
In just his second grand tour start, the 30-year-old Canadian confirmed Wednesday he’s in top form. In what was a very good sign for what lies ahead in this Vuelta, Woods smashed it across the top with the frontline GC favorites on the steep climb above the shimmering Mediterranean at Alcossebre.
With this Vuelta riddled with steep, explosive climbs, the U.S.-registered team is betting Woods will deliver the goods.
“Michael is better than he was in the Giro,” said Cannondale-Drapac sport director Juanma Garate. “We believe he can beat the top riders head-to-head. He can fight against Chaves, Froome and Contador on climbs like Xorret de Catì and Cumbre del Sol this weekend.”
Those high expectations reveal just how far and how fast Woods has climbed inside the team’s pecking order. In just his second grand tour start, Woods is already receiving protected-rider status.
His grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia in May revealed he has the racing chops, and can handle the day-in, day-out stress and demands of racing grand tours.
A former collegiate runner, Woods posted two top-fives, and rode into the top-40 on GC at the Giro. That came on the heels of a solid WorldTour debut last year, when he was top-five at the Santos Tour Down Under to start the season, and was second at Milano-Torino to close out the year. This year, he’s more experienced, and even hungrier.
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