Road To The Olympic Games

Canadian Mike Woods credited with big assist in team's Giro d'Italia stage win

Ottawa cyclist Mike Woods helped teammate Pierre Rolland win stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday.

Ottawa cyclist provides crucial support in Pierre Rolland's stage win

Ottawa's Michael Woods, seen earlier this year, finished ninth in Wednesday's 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

Ottawa cyclist Mike Woods is being credited with a big assist in teammate Pierre Rolland's stage 17 win of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday.

Rolland, a Frenchman who, along with the 30-year-old Woods, rides for the Cannondale-Drapac team, accelerated from a large group of breakaway riders with about five kilometres to go in the 219-kilometre leg from Tirano to Canazei.

Rolland had been part of the breakaway from the start of the stage, which included climbs over the Aprica and Tonale passes. His decisive breakaway came in the Val di Fassa. Woods, as a support rider, helped disrupt the chase pack and allow Rolland to win. Woods finished ninth.

"Mike was a very effective and selfless teammate today," said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. "Without his intelligence and sacrifice, there would be no win."

"I had a huge boost of adrenaline coming into the final," Woods told his team's website. "I'm always excited to be at the front of a race at a race of this significance. It was hard, but I didn't even feel my legs. The finish suited us. With so many guys tired from yesterday, today, I was able to cover moves confidently, and that got me increasingly excited."

Tom Dumoulin's overall lead remained unchanged. The Dutchman remained 31 seconds ahead of 2014 champion Nairo Quintana, with two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali third, 1:12 behind.

Rolland's first Giro stage win

It was Rolland's first career win in the Giro, having won two stages in the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012. He hadn't posted a win since taking overall victory in the Castilla and Leon tour at the start of 2015.

"I've waited for this moment for such a long time," Rolland said. "In 2015 I finished second in a Tour de France stage, and last year was just a year to forget for me. I crashed twice in the Tour. It's been a long wait."

Rolland credited his form to his work over the winter with Cannondale general manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.

"My winter was so so hard, and now I've won because of my work," he said.

Rui Costa, the 2013 world champion, won a sprint for second, crossing 24 seconds behind Rolland.

Basque rider Gorka Izaguirre crossed third.

The main pack including Dumoulin and all of the other contenders finished nearly eight minutes behind.

Stage 18 is a 137-kilometre (85-mile) leg from Moeana to Ortisei in the Val Gardena that features four categorized climbs, including an uphill finish.

The 100th Giro ends in Milan on Sunday with an individual time trial.

with files from CBC Sports

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