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Michael Woods (EF Education First) attacked repeatedly on the final climb of the day to win Milano-Torino.
Woods was aggressive throughout the final ascent of the Superga climb, splitting down the group with a barrage of accelerations, before finally going clear of his remaining rivals with 300 meters to go. The Canadan’s final acceleration distanced Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who finished second, and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who took third.
Having placed second behind Primoz Roglic at Giro dell’Emillia on Sunday before being taken out of contention by his group being diverted off course at the close of Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday, Woods finally has just reward for his efforts so far this week.
“Anytime you can beat Alejandro Valverde it’s a special time,” said Woods after the race.
Having come close in one-day hilly races through the year, including fifth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in spring, and hitting the top-10 at GP Montreal and Classica San Sebastian in late-summer, Woods will close out his season at Il Lombardia on Saturday.
“That is the big goal, to chase victory or a podium position at Lombardia,” he said. “I wanted to have a big win this season and this already stands as a big win when you look at the field. A win at Lombardia would be icing on the cake.”
Milano-Torino, now in its 100th edition, culminates with the double ascent of the Superga climb, with the finish line falling at the top of the second ascent.
The day’s breakaway was all caught as the race hit the top of the climb the first time round. The bunch hit the bottom of the second ascent of the tough 4.7km, nine percent climb together, with the first attacks coming from Yates and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), who were soon clear of the peloton.
Woods and Valverde responded to the initial moves and bridged across, with Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) and Davide Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) joining shortly afterward.
Woods and Gaudu were the aggressors throughout the climb, trading repeated attack and counter-attacks as the remaining riders still in contact struggled to respond.
Egan Bernal (Ineos), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Tiejs Benoot (Lotto Soudal), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) all yo-yo’d on and off the pace as Gaudu and Woods continually attacked, with Valverde the only constant presence on their wheels.
It was Woods’ fourth move of the climb that stuck.
He accelerated hard with 300 meters to go, leaving Valverde chasing his wheel and Benoot and Yates a few seconds back. The Canadian accelerated all the way to the line, and though Valverde was close, the Movistar man never looked like he’d be able to come past, leaving Woods to take the win he’d been hunting all year. Yates was able to come round Benoot in the closing stretch to take third.
“I really wanted to shake up the pace and I wanted to be on the offensive and put guys on the back foot,” said Woods. “That was my goal with attacking so much and I think it worked out.”
- Michael Woods (EF Education First): 4:03:48
- Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): S.T.
- Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): +0:00:05
- Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal): +0:00:10
- David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ:S.T.
- Egan Bernal (Ineos): S.T