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CALTAGIRONE, Italy (VN) — They called it the Liège-Bastogne-Liège of Sicily. And just like in La Doyenne last month, Michael Woods came within a few pedal strokes of victory.
EF Education First-Drapac’s Canadian crusher notched his best-ever grand tour result Tuesday in stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia with second place at the end of the steep Caltagirone finale. Only world-class puncheur Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) could deny him the victory.
“Wellens just had better legs. I was trying to time it, and I tried coming around and I just couldn’t do it,” Woods said. “It was all a question of power. That was it. I was full-gas.”
Woods’s meteoric rise continues on its upward trajectory. Last year, he rode two grand tours, taking fifth place in a stage at the 2017 Giro before climbing to seventh overall as well as notching a third-place stage result at the Vuelta a España to confirm his GC chops.
Already at this Giro, he’s already topped his best grand tour stage result. The ultimate goal is to secure his first WorldTour career win, and ideally, it comes over the next three weeks.
For this Giro, Woods says the priority is a stage victory while taking the GC taking as it comes. With time bonuses at the line, Woods slots in 18th at 53 seconds back, two spots ahead of Chris Froome (Sky).
EF Education First-Drapac is off to a hot start in this Giro. It was second with Sacha Modolo on Sunday in Eilat and Woods bookended it Tuesday with another second.
“We were keen here to win a stage. Two second places doesn’t count it yet,” Woods said. “This is one that really stood out for me and I wanted to do well here.”
Woods’s profile is certainly rising in the peloton. Wellens said it’s no surprise to see the 31-year-old performing at this level.
“He is already riding very good in the peloton the last few years,” Wellens said. “In the spring classics this year, he was already at the front, so it was normal today he was second.”
Wednesday’s hilly stage across southern Sicily is almost a carbon copy of what the peloton raced today. Woods is hoping to go one better and then hit the repeat button.