Cyclist Mike Woods aims for stage victory at 101st Giro d'Italia
Ottawa native brimming with confidence after 2nd-place effort at Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Canadian Mike Woods, fresh off a historic second-place finish at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, is looking to make his mark in the 101st Giro d'Italia.
The first three stages of the race are in Israel, starting Friday with an individual time trial in Jerusalem. It marks the first time a Grand Tour race will begin outside Europe.
The riders then travel to Sicily for three stages before reaching mainland Italy for Stage 7 on the second weekend of racing.
"My big goal for this Giro is to get a stage win," said Woods. "I haven't won a WorldTour race yet, and with 21 stages on tap, I'm hoping I can win one of them."
I think he arrives in Israsel exactly as we wanted. ... If he continues to feel like he is living his dream, I believe this next month will be a really successful one. — Team sport director Juanma Garate on Canadian cyclist Mike Woods racing the Giro d'Italia
The 31-year-old from Ottawa, riding for the EF Education First-Drapac team, became the first Canadian to finish on the podium at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race when he sprinted to second place last month.
The 258.5-kilometre race takes riders from Liege to Bastogne and back to Liege. First run in 1892, Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the fourth of the five so-called Monument Classics — along with Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Il Lombardia — the most prestigious one-day races in pro cycling.
Woods was 38th in last year's Giro and seventh in the Spanish Vuelta.
"The Giro is going to be another step in Mike's career," said team sport director Juanma Garate. "After a difficult start for him this season, I think he arrives in Israel exactly as we wanted. If he enjoys every day, if he continues to feel like he is living his dream, I believe this next month will be a really successful one."
Former elite distance runner
Woods struggled with illness at the start of the season.
A former elite distance runner, Woods switched to cycling due to a recurrent stress fracture in his foot. His last attempt at a track comeback ended with another break in 2011.
Woods is joined on the by Britain's Hugh Carthy, Americans Nate Brown and Joe Dombrowski, Italy's Sacha Modolo, Belgium's Tom Van Asbroeck, Australia's Mitch Docker and New Zealand's Tom Scully.
The 3,563-kilometre race finishes May 27 in Rome.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro in 2012.