Strong legs and strong pain faces were needed to conquer the 15 percent slopes of the finish climb of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes on Saturday, and it turned out that Michael Woods has both.
The Canadian star kicked his way to glory on the hilltop finish in Fayence to win the second stage of the race and take a slim lead on GC with one stage remaining.
The 1200 meter ascent to the line made for a stern test of early season form with its steep slopes and slaloming switchbacks, and there was no matching Woods, despite the best efforts of powerful puncheurs such as Greg Van Avermaet and Bauke Mollema. But at least they bought their best gurns along for the ride.
Van Avermaet was toward the front of the bunch before being dropped.
Sivakov finished in the main group behind the leaders and brought a winning pain face to proceedings.
Woods and Narváez were first to take the lead through the steepest slopes of the Fayence climb.
Overnight GC leader led the chase for Woods, but no amount of agony would pull back the charging Canadian.
Woods was unstoppable on the Fayence climb, and it looks like the 1200 meter effort hurt.
But at least Woods was smiling (behind a mask) at the end of the day as he took the race leader’s jersey.