Woods signs ‘multi-year’ deal with EF Education First

American team confident its Canadian climber has limitless potential with Tour de France debut likely in 2019.

Following his breakout season in 2018, Michael Woods is staying with what works. EF Education First confirmed a “multi-year” deal with the Canadian to keep him with U.S.-registered team he joined in 2016.

“The direction of the team, the idea of exploring the world — it all really meshes with what I believe in,” Woods said. “I came to the team not knowing who I was as a cyclist and what I was capable of.

The deal is confirmation for Woods and payback for team boss Jonathan Vaughters, who signed the former runner to the WorldTour in 2016.

“We had our eyes on Mike for a long time before we actually signed him. His talent was clear based on his running, but it’s a rare runner who can figure out the bike handling and nuance of bike racing,” said EF Education First CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “But at Tour of Utah in 2015, I felt he had a certain extra determination to get over those hurdles. He was a gut feeling signing. I’m so happy to see him progress so far.”

Following his big season in 2018, Woods is angling to race his first Tour de France this summer and planning to target the world championships in Yorkshire. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo also loom large in his ambitions.

At 32, Woods feels like he is just hitting his stride. He notched his first win in 2019 with a stage at the Herald Sun Tour and returns to competition with the Ardennes classics as his next major goals.

“I have to laugh when you ask me about Mike’s future because I have said the same sentence to him over and over since his first month with the team,” said sport director Juanma Garate.

“I always repeat to him, ‘You don’t know what your limit is.’ It was true then, and it’s still true now. He doesn’t know. We don’t know. He’s kind of a new rider with the maturity of a 31-year-old. He’s progressing all the time.”