The 2022 road cycling season is one Michael Woods (Israel-PremiereTech) would hope to soon forget. Speaking to VeloNews before the start of the Giro dell’Emilia, the 35-year-old is hoping to end the season on a good note after a year filled with illness and crashes.
“It’s really been my most unlucky season in a lot of ways, particularly with all the illnesses,” Woods said. “Then, I’ve made some mistakes coming back too soon.”
Returning from yet another bout of illness last week, his expectations were low ahead of a tough race and stacked field on Saturday, including Tadej Pogacar, Adam Yates, and Alejandro Valverde; Movistar’s Enric Mas took the win.
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The Canadian had planned to race the full week of Italian fall classics as a lead-up to Lombardia, a race he has targeted as a big goal of his career. He had not started Coppa Agostoni on Wednesday, and would eventually DNF Saturday’s Giro dell’Emilia, a race he has finished twice on the podium.
“We pushed too hard for me to come back too fast and paid the price. I’ve learned from that mistake now and so I’m looking forward, I just have to be more patient.”
Woods became only the second Canadian to wear the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France in what was a breakthrough season in 2021, garnering multiple top ten finishes at Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie, and La Fléche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He would repeat the effort at this year’s Ardennes and also celebrate a third place finish behind compatriot Hugo Houle at the Tour, winning the first stage victory in decades.
“This has been a great year for Canada with Ben Perry winning at the Tour of Britain, Hugo Houle doing an amazing job winning a stage at the Tour de France,” he said. “It’s a reflection of how far Canadian cycling has come, and also the support Canadian cycling has with teams like Israel-Premiere Tech and with sponsors like Louis Garneau back home. The WorldTour races in Montreal and Quebec too; those guys have done such a great job.”
Woods suffered a set back out of the gate, being hit with Covid in January. The year would become a rollercoaster of ups and downs filled with crashes, illnesses, but also included celebrating his first-ever stage race win in France at La Route d’Occitanie.
“I still want to keep on racing, I still want to get some big results,” he said. “I have some big goals so I’m just looking forward now.
“These races are certainly good prep for Lombardia and even for the year to come. I’ve had some great progression over the last couple of years, and even this year. Moving into 2023 in particularly, I have some big goals and I think I can become an even better rider. I just need to get through these next few races for now first.”