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Michael Woods’ dream run in the first week of the Tour de France ended abruptly Saturday when he hit the deck late in the stage.
Woods slipped out on a corner in a pile-up that also took out defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos) with about 15km to go and just 1km ahead of the key final climb. The Tour rookie wasn’t seriously injured, but struggled with a mechanical to get back on the bike just as the pace was heating up. Woods ceded more than 14 minutes and tumbled from a top-10 overall at ninth to 35th at 15:32 back.
“I’m disappointed to be out of the GC,” Woods told journalists Sunday morning. “The last eight days were a real emotional high for me just being in the top-10 in GC.”
EF Education first was pressing the action in Saturday’s spectacular stage to set up Woods or Alberto Bettiol for a run for the stage win. EF Education First and Astana were collaborating to try to reel in the day’s winning breakaway when Woods slipped on a high-speed corner.
Thomas also went down, but while the Ineos team was able to bring last year’s Tour winner back to the front, Woods struggled to get his bike in working order.
“It was my fault,” Woods said. “I am descending quite well and I am happy with my bike-handling skills in this Tour. It was a bit greasy through the corner and I didn’t have enough weight on the outside pedal. It was just pilot error.
“I saw everyone take it perfectly, so I was surprised I was on the ground. I was wondering if I hit a patch of oil,” Woods said. “That final climb really suited me. The two guys that went away were [Julian] Alaphilippe and [Thibaut] Pinot, guys that I am typically able to go with. The body is fine, head is just a bit sad.”
EF Education kept its team captain Rigoberto Urán well-placed in the finale, and the Colombian moved up to eighth overall.
“It was unfortunate what happened with Mike, and for today’s stage, it compromised what we were trying to do,” said EF Education First sport director Charly Wegelius. “I’m pretty confident that if he had stayed upright, he would have stayed with Pinot and Alaphilippe. That was the kind of move we were planning for him.”
Woods’ bad luck came on the same day that Tejay van Garderen was unable to start following a heavy crash in Friday’s stage.
The team’s GC options remain intact with Urán, and Woods was not seriously injured. The Canadian’s overall aspirations are over, but with the time losses, he might have more space to move in a quest to try to win a stage later in the Tour.